The End of August and #DrawingAugust Draws to a Close…

Today is both Caligula‘s birthday and the last day of August. I’m going to celebrate the 2001st anniversary of the 3rd Roman Emperor’s birth in appropriate fashion later but, for now, I’d like to talk briefly about August ending. With the month coming to a close it means that the #DrawingAugust challenge (or ‘Drawing August challenge’ if hashtags hurt your feelings) is, likewise, over and done with.

To recap, every day for the past 31 days I’ve been spending a little bit of time making a sketchy-doodle mini-narrative combining a simple image and some handwritten scrawl. The results are posted all over my ‘art’ blog if you’re interested though they are nothing compared to the mass of masterpieces produced by other ‘proper’ artists. Ian Gordon Craig has been collecting them on a Pinterest board and it’s well worth a look to see the wide array of styles, skills and inspired artwork of very different people.

Even though I don’t rate my output at all it’s been fun to scribble around and conjure up some fresh original creations on a constant basis. I’ve got fresh story ideas, characters and concepts to expand upon. I’ve also cleaned off some drawing rust and got a galvanising shot of “yeah, practice more” impetus which is a bonus.

The crucial point of the exercise, though, is this: constant focused, forced creativity is a good thing that keeps your imagination working and exercises your metaphorical creative muscles. It helps generate ideas, keeps you in ‘the flow’ and makes you happy (you want to be happy, right?). This is why I write every day and keep up stuff like the alternate reality news blog – ensure that there’s everyday enjoyment, fantastical thinking and creative action in life. Without it you’re liable to atrophy and feel your energies and essential enthusiasm draining elsewhere.

You can find creative advice and motivational aphorisms elsewhere so I’ll spare you the preaching. I’ll instead leave you to the last day of August with a time-themed #DrawingAugust piece that I spawned on Day 6 and a salute to all the artists who took part and worked up amazing illustrations and paintings during the past month. Every day inspiration! Every day art! Every day is excellent with these things!

Now, on to Autumn… (the time period in which we attempt to recover from the deranged excess of Caligula’s birthday party…)

August 6th – Time’s Terrifying Tendrils

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Timequakes and Tremendous Insight into the Current Affairs of Alternate Realities…

On 28th August 2012, James Clayton (me?) opened up his alternate reality news service. He reported the happenings of parallel realities in this reality and pushed out the headlines on the ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ blog and on his Twitter feed. It was fun, it was interesting and it lasted for exactly 222 days until the Cosmic Will told him, “Okay, brother, enough of this for now…

Today, in an alternate reality, James Clayton (an alternate reality James Clayton. Not me? But how much of me is he? How much of he is me?) has experienced a timequake. In that universe time has slipped back a year and everyone in that timestream is going to have to relive the past 12 months all over again. While he’s there he might as well do something constructive. He has thus decided that he’s going to find out more about the alternate realities he gained snippets of insight into and provide further context, analysis and additional in-depth reportage to accompany the daily headlines we’ve already seen.

I (me, or at least I think this is me) will then publish what he sends via special psychic connection on a fresh-but-reassuringly-familiar blog. If you liked ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ chances are you’ll like ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality… Plus!’ There are some awesome mindblowing parallel dimensions out there and fascinating things are occurring in them. I’d love to share them with you and find it way better than getting bogged down in the mainstream news of this reality which seems to tend towards the bleak, cynical, dubious and/or frivolous.

For a fresh alternative, join me in exploring the affairs of alternate realities. Oh, and spare a thought for your alternate reality self who’s been hit by a timequake and has to go through the past 12 months all over…

Roll and Write: The Pep Hotstreak Hot Streak Dicewriting Experiment…

I like writing, creatively experimenting and adding to my extensive collection of side-blogs. Thus, I’ve started knocking up a fresh writing thing and it is this:  The Pep Hotstreak Hot Streak.

It’s not anything special (then again, how do you work out what’s ‘special’ and what’s ‘not special’?) but what it is is fun and fruitful. Basically, to sum up, it’s me typing out an unplanned, unedited, silly spontaneous, free-flowing yarn based entirely around a character called Pep Hotstreak. It’s written in the style of a chooseable path adventure book, because with the Working Barbarian and Ryan North’s ‘To Be or Not to Be?’ I’m into that sort of thing at the moment. A key thing about this story, however, is that readers don’t decide where the tale turns next. I don’t even really get to decide, even though I present myself possible choices and take great pleasure in making them as absurd. The next move – and the subsequent plot progression I then have to write – is dictated by the roll of a die.

This makes writing even more of an exhilarating wild mystery trip. I have no idea where I’m going and the challenge is to keep imagining up fresh stuff and spin the tale on on the fly according to the whims of fate, chance, the unfurling of the Cosmic Will or whatever you believe controls the Universe’s unfurling. It’s also an excellent thing to repeatedly hop back to when I need to get my fingers and brain moving. My aim is not to write anything really worthy or logical – my aim is to play with myself and perk myself up when I need inspiration or typing or thinking warm-up activity. It’s an ideas and creative energy generator and it’s also, as I say, an enjoyable distraction. Writing fantastical stories is the most enjoyable distraction available to us.

I really like dicewriting as an alternative method of making stuff up. I will keep adding to the streaky sprawling scrawl as is my wont and will occasionally flag it up to say “Whoa! Pep Hotstreak has been in some very surprising and unexpected places!” You may enjoy it or find it quite fascinating so feel free to head over to the site and consider my imaginative experiment. Alternatively, why not find a die and try rolling out some writing options yourself?

(This is the point where you do get to make a choice. Cherish your freewill and creative abilities…)

Fight! Fight! Fight! Sheer Khan, Pure Khanage…

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! Khan vs. Khan

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Khan vs. Khan

 

It’s time for ultraviolence and tawdry fan-fiction again, friends. I’ve been doing terrible things to Star Trek again on Andrew Blair‘s sublime and exhilarating Fight! Fight! Fight! blog and this week’s battle gives the internet what it most desires and answers one of the most vital questions floating around in the aftermath of the new Trek movie’s release…

Who would win in a battle between Khan (Ricardo Montalbán, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) and Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness)?

I investigated and scripted up the hypothetical confrontation between the two superhumans who are one and the same. I hope you enjoy the results and, as always, I recommend the Fight! Fight! Fight! blog as a fantastical fun cyberspace-place to spend time getting sadistic geek kicks.

“KHAAAAAAAAAAAANN!” Phew. I’m glad I got that out of my system…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Pegasus Faces Planet Chimera’…

It’s that time of th’month again: time to ponder on a picture, power up some possible plots and package one up into a short piece for the Pictonaut challenge. Here’s how it runs: Major John (he’s taken his protein pills and put his helmet on) radios ground control after he’s picked an evocative image and then urges the internet to be inspired and write a short story based on it. Every month I see what Major Steele has stuck up and spawn something. It’s a fun creative exercise and I encourage you to do likewise before August is over. The picture chosen for this 1/12th is the following piece by the amazing artist Daren Horley

Daren Horley takes us on a voyage to the planets…

Stellar. The call is for sci-fi space tales and I am into sci-fi space tales. I am also interested in mythology and twisting ancient folklore – say, Greek myth – into new settings. I have thus written something that emphasises the ‘fiction’ bit over the ‘science’ bit in ‘science fiction’ (though I dispute the label ‘fiction’ because everything is true). It doesn’t stand up at all scientifically so please forget the laws of physics when you read this (I’m pretty sure I’ve just produced an impossible anti-science abomination). In fact, it possibly doesn’t stand up at all and may simply be a weak, awkward slapdash spacecraft-crash of a thing. I don’t know. I just came here in search of space, in search of a fast-and-loose writing exercise, in search of ways to reweave old stories in alternative style.

This month’s short-and-quickfire Pictonaut effort is titled Pegasus Faces Planet Chimera and I hope you find it semi-enjoyable and/or interesting. You can read it here…

August is On, August Art is On…

Hey, August has Augusted! It’s the most august of months! Hail to the swansong of summer and all squeeze out every last drop of sunshine before we descend into autumn’s dark abyss!

On an artistic front, 1st August means that #DrawingAugust (or ‘Drawing August’ if you don’t like hashtags) is go. Every day I’m going to make sure I produce a sketch and stick it up on my sketchy blog. They’re all going to be simplistic doodles of something backed with scratchy text bits resembling some kind of narrative. I started today with an occult white rabbit. Saying “White Rabbit” at the beginning of a new month is an irrational superstition I tend to follow (but I don’t even believe in luck so why do I do that?) and I decided that she should be a cult leader conducting arcane rituals. This is a different rabbit hole, Alice. Please, pick out a robe and join us in the circle…

Beyond the same kind of format, I don’t know what I’m going to be drawing or if they’re going to be any ‘good’. It could be interesting and it’s a guarantee that the art other people will be creating will be amazing. Keep an eye out for #DrawingAugust and here’s to an excellent last month of summer!