The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World, Part 1

Strong coffeeAbout 2 months ago I wrote a blog post explaining how I want to write fun short stories (preferably silly or comedic in some way) based on ideas that you, my readers, come up with and pass on to me. Not because I’m lazy – I always have a million ideas buzzing around (which actually gets annoying sometimes) – but because I think it could be a fun new way to interact with my readers and also actually get back to creating more on this blog (which does, to be fair, have the word “creation” in its title). Anyway, if you haven’t seen that blog post, or would like to suggest an idea or want to see the sorts of ideas I’ve received already, have a look here.

The first story I’m going to write is based on a suggestion by CricketMuse, another writer/reader/blogger/teacher who has been blogging at least as long as I have and who has managed to retain far more focus than I ever could. This blog is a must for anybody interested in books, writing, and well just words pretty much!

The story suggestion is: “Suppose aliens swoop in with a coffeebean emp– how will the world cope being caffeine free?” As a coffee drinker, this idea terrifies me. Let’s see what this terrible imagination of mine does to this perfectly great idea (sorry in advance)! This will be in at least two parts but maybe three (just to break it up for you readers (okay, fine, to break it up for me too))!

The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World

Part 1

by the considerably caffeinated Matt Watson

I stared out the window motionlessly as the morning cup whirled down my throat and into my body in a desperate yet routine attempt to bring me back to life enough to drive to work and pretend to be a normal person, just like everybody else pretends to be. We all have that drug of choice to help us achieve this – for some it’s smoking, others it’s alcohol, for some weird people it’s something even vaguely healthy like tea or juice or even water. But for a large amount of us, all around the world, it’s coffee that enables us to feign functionality in a world that is set to drain us until we are nothing left but a mechanical husk of what we once were. It was coffee that had provided me with a means of being an adult for the last twenty years.

My hand moved, without thought, to lift up my coffee cup to my mouth, only something was wrong. I nearly threw the mug into the roof with its lack of weight that I was clearly not prepared for, but being quite sure I had not gained any superpowers in the previous moments of contemplation and window-staring I found myself surprised at the possibility that I had already consumed all my coffee. I looked into the mug only to see desolation and crushed hopes.

I put the mug back down and rubbed my eyes. “It’s too early for magic tricks,” I mumbled to anybody who would listen.

“What magic tricks?” she retorted from the other room.

“My coffee is gone but I swear I didn’t drink it.”

“Oh darling…you just need another coffee. Make yourself another one.”

She was right. Of course she was right. She always was. I had accepted that a long time ago – I think it was in the marriage contract or something. I stood up after a couple of attempts and reached into the cupboard for the coffee, but again the coffee jar was not as heavy as I had been sure it was only moments earlier. I looked at it in my hands – completely empty, not even the coffee dust on the sides. It looked like as if somebody had cleaned it. But…nobody had been in the room since I last looked at it a few minutes ago. I put the jar backed and checked the cupboard properly. Then I checked the entire kitchen.

“Are you okay in there?” The noise had intrigued her, but not enough to actually come and see what was going on.

“Erm…yeah. The coffee has just…disappeared.”

“Well maybe you ran out, dear. Get one on your way to work or something.”

“Yes…yes that’s a good idea. Of course.”

I finished getting ready, with only a few sips of coffee struggling to keep me conscious I was quite certain. I felt like I was losing my mind, which was something that usually required more than ten coffees to occur, not just a few sips. But maybe I hadn’t slept well. I had no reason to worry about it just yet.

No, the moment when I felt I was more justified in my all-out-panic was when I pulled out of the fifth consecutive fast food drive-through window without a coffee. All of them, much to their own surprise, had been entirely depleted of their coffee stocks in what seemed to be the first time ever. I drove to a nearby supermarket, but the same thing had happened there. After two more stores that yielded the same impossible results, I drove to work with a sudden fondness for armageddon.

At the office, it turned out, we had also run out of coffee. I don’t want to sound melodramatic or anything, but I am quite certain I fell to my knees and screamed “nooo” at the top of my lungs for a few seconds before rolling over into the foetal position.



“So like…do they talk or what?” The long, bony, surprisingly ungreen (it was more a light pink) finger of the alien known as Boll poked one of the dormant beans.

“Don’t touch it you idiot! We still don’t fully understand them yet.”

“Oh, sorry Boss.” Boll stood up properly after being reprimanded by the creature he called Boss, but who was otherwise known as Ocks. Ocks was elected boss not by any sort of mental or emotional aptitude he possessed or had displayed, but because of the fact he was only 97 centimetres in height. As Boll stood at an appallingly tall 189 centimetres, his career prospects looked pretty dim. Such was the way of life for the Floating Nobulas, a curious nomadic people of unknown origins who travelled around the galaxies causing minor mischief normally by accident.

“And yes, apparently they do talk. They are alive after all.”

“But some of those human people said that most living things on Earth don’t talk, that only they do.”

“Yes, Boll, but just because some human told you that you’re going to believe it? Trust me, they’re not the brightest pack down there. These beans can talk,” and Ocks paused to look, no, stare, at the coffee beans, before pointedly asking “can’t they?”

The silence was mostly humiliating. They had come a long way to pick up these beans, to save them from the evil humans who kept grounding them up. They had agreed not to mess with the human affairs other than to remove all coffee beans and place them onto the several hundred ships that waited patiently outside the solar system in which the Earth existed. They already had a few issues to solve, such as where they would actually put these beans in the long term, but this silence was not assisting the situation.

Running out of ideas, Ocks finally played his blackmail card. “Fine, if you don’t talk, I’ll just send you back to Earth and you know what ha-“

But Ocks didn’t need to finish his sentence, as thousands of tiny eyes sprung open. One tiny bean finally hopped forward and bowed politely. “I apologise…we do not know how to handle such kindness as that which you have poured upon us.”

“Yes,” started another bean, “usually we just have boiling water poured upon us.”

“Sh!” The apparent leader of the beans didn’t want to give the aliens any ideas. “We are at your service, so long as you spare our lives.”

Ocks and Boll looked at each other, before Boll exclaimed “Awesome! We have a tiny army!”

Boll’s gigantic and quite hideous grin quickly disappeared with a knock to the top of the head from Ocks. “We have plans to make.”


By lunchtime, it had been declared on the world news that coffee no longer existed. It had completely disappeared, not just the stuff in the shops but also the actual plants themselves. It was as if the human race had been hallucinating the stuff, the entire concept, for the last few centuries. Except that when they checked books about it, it was still in there. There were still websites dedicated to it, there were still bad bumper stickers on the backs of cars referring to it, there were still shops and cafés whose business depended on it even if those shops and cafés suddenly looked like victims of a really huge theft (which, to be fair, they were).

It was declared an international emergency. Wars were temporarily brought to a ceasefire, political squabbles were put aside, natural disasters politely asked to take a hike for a short while. The 7 billion inhabitants of the planet needed to put their minds together to find a solution. Which would have been a great idea if it wasn’t for the withdrawal headaches from which large amounts of the human race were beginning to suffer.

However, despite my headache, even though I was emotionally volatile, I realised that this was my moment to shine! This was when I would become a hero, the hero that saved the world’s coffee supply! Today, I would be the biggest single cure for a headache ever! Because while the planet searched itself for something it no longer possessed, I turned my eyes to somewhere entirely different…

To Be Continued….

A new writing segment that involves YOU!

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the future of my various blogs, in particular this one which is after all my original blog. One thing I have been doing a lot of this year is creating – lots of short stories, poetry and two thirds of a quite awful novel, to be exact. But I haven’t been sharing this on my blog, instead writing about only the manic thoughts of some of the writing challenges I’ve taken on.

Well, it’s time to get back to wantonly creating once more! I want to write short stories that I will put up on here, but here’s where you come in – I want you to tell me what to write. I have plenty of ideas, and for that matter lots of half-finished short stories. But I think it could be fun to write stories proposed by others and to share them with you all.

So here’s the plan:

  • the idea you give me can be about anything you like. I can’t make any promises about genre – often when I write comedy I end up becoming dark and introspective and when I try to write something more serious and realistic I get silly and surreal. Really, I must be honest – the sillier the idea, the happier I will be!
  • The idea should be simple – something you can say in a single line (a bit like a log-line, I guess). Something like “An egotistical pot plant learns a life lesson after a near death experience” for example. A very weird example, but still.
  • If you want, specify a word limit. I plan to keep all of these between 5 words and 1000 words – I’ll naturally lean toward 1000 words if you don’t specify the limit, of course. Only in certain circumstances I might consider going higher than this.

That’s it, really. I want to see first how many ideas I get. I would love to get a lot of ideas from people to build up a bit of a bank from which to choose my stories from. I can’t guarantee I’ll write every idea but I’ll certainly try to if possible. Depending on how many ideas I’ll get, I’ll then decide how often I do these stories and publish them on here. I’m thinking perhaps once a month would be nice but if I get more submissions then of course I’ll increase this amount.

So, send me your ideas in the comments section. Let me take some genius story concept of yours and watch me ruin it with my terrible writing turn it into…a story. Yep.

Camp NaNoWriMo, done in 12 days!

As you might know, I attempted to do Camp NaNoWriMo this month even though I’d be away camping for half of the month (camping while camp is on, hmmm). Somehow, despite knowing the obvious stupidity of it, I didn’t write every single day I was at home, either. As a result, this happened:

Camp NaNo July Graph


You can quite clearly see in the graph above the half of the month I went camping. Then I attempted a desperate comeback towards the end of the month, before deciding I couldn’t be bothered doing it every day. So, at just under 19000 words, I waited until today to finish it in one day, forcing out 11350 words of utterly rubbish short stories in order to reach my goal. BUT I DID IT!

I am now exhausted and feel like I need to sleep for a day, but it’s nice to know I still have it in me to write a crazy amount like that in one day when I have to.

After I’ve rested a bit, I’ll get on with all these other blog posts I’ve been wanting to write for ages! For anybody out there still working on their Camp NaNoWriMo projects, good luck with getting them finished. And if it feels hopeless, just look at my graph – hopefully that’ll serve as a reminder that anything is possible with enough coffee and crazy (I had 8 cups this morning, just so you know).

Who signed me up to Camp NaNoWriMo again? Oh, me.

2014 Camp Nano-Participant-Vertical-BannerI really enjoyed Camp NaNoWriMo in April, as I wrote 30 000 words across 6 short stories and finally created a collection of humorous stories which were actually vaguely funny. It was exhausting but I thoroughly enjoyed writing them and I promised myself if time permitted I would continue them in July, or at least write more short stories of some kind (that might not be connected to the April ones).

It’s the last week of June now. I’ve committed myself to several things that are going to keep me quite busy these next couple of months. I am also going on a road trip for a couple of weeks across Sweden in the middle of July. All signs are pointing toward the fact that July is really quite booked up, and I definitely don’t have time for another 30 000 words of frantic short story writing.

So anyway I signed up this afternoon and I feel like I should be suffering from some kind of pre-apocalyptic fear of “what have I done”-itis but here I am feeling remarkably calm, as I always am before undergoing some intense writing challenge. I think I had so much fun last time that I just want to experience that again, though I know I am swimming in dangerous waters here and having an expectation like that might lead to disappointment. But it might not. And I want to find out, I guess.

So the only thing I have left to decide is this – do I continue with the stories I was really enjoying writing (where each story had new characters but the setting and general premise was the same, and all were connected by a few specific characters) or do I just try something entirely new to see where my mind takes me?

Did any of you participate in the April Camp and are also taking part in the July one? What is your approach this time around?

Oh, and if you’re interested in participating in this crazy challenge (you can choose the word goal and type of writing yourself), go visit the Camp NaNoWriMo site here for more information! If you love writing and have never tried this kind of challenge before, this might just be for you!

Victory is mine! (Camp NaNoWriMo victory, that is…)

It’s official guys, I’m a:



This morning, three minutes before midday on April 29, I managed to edge over the 30 000 word goal I set myself for my short stories project in Camp NaNoWriMo and have therefore been declared a winner!

In the end, I wrote six short stories, three of which I am quite happy with, three of which need quite a bit of work. But I have rediscovered the joy of writing short stories after several years of writing novels in the main NaNoWriMo event in November, so it has been a nice month in that respect!

I have learnt a lot in my journey, but then I kind of talked about that enough in my post last week, which you should read by clicking here. So now I shall charge onward to finish NaPoWriMo, the event where I’m writing 30 poems this month as well – I am about nine poems behind there so I have a bit of work to do.

I hope everybody else who has participated in either of these events this month has had as much fun as I have, and has managed to meet their goals or at least reignite their passion for writing (which is ultimately the purpose of such writing challenges, I feel).

Over the next month I’m going to use this energy to start etching out a lot more blog posts, too, so stay tuned!

Some lessons I’ve learnt from Camp NaNoWriMo

2014 Camp Nano-Participant-Vertical-BannerWhen I started Camp NaNoWriMo on the first of this month, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I came up with a weird and fanciful idea of writing stories about animals trying to revolt (but subtly revolt) against the humans in their respective worlds. I wanted to make the stories funny, but in a classy way – a bit like the Jeeves and Wooster series of P. G. Wodehouse (and let’s be honest, everything he ever wrote). And so this little collection I’m now working on was born.

It’s been up and down. I’m currently writing my fifth story, with my first and fourth stories left wide open for a “part two” of sorts to be added on directly from the end of them. I have learnt a few lessons along the way, lessons which I knew but forgot, which are worth sharing:

  1. When writing short stories, keep it simple. This means keeping the characters to a reasonable amount. My second story involved 7 or 8 characters plus a bunch of “bad guys”, and all the characters were too strong in personality and fighting for attention. Maybe this story would have worked later, but each of these characters need to be introduced in their own individual stories first. This one was just overkill.
  2. If you’re trying to write funny short stories, make sure you develop your characters properly. My best stories so far are the first and last ones, because I had ridiculously quirky characters driving them forwards. It is often the flaw of the character that makes them funny, not the things they do well.
  3. If a story feels like it’s dragging on too long, that’s most likely because it’s dragging on too long. If you’re bored with your own story during the first draft, your reader is probably going to be as well. You’re allowed to be bored when you’ve edited it a bazillion times, but the first draft should be the fun part. So if it’s dragging on, cut some parts out or just pause it and come back to it later with a fresh mind (I did that with one of my stories).
  4. You’re going to get ups and downs when writing several short stories. So follow my advice from the last point – change scenery and start a new story if the current one is annoying you – you can always come back. And don’t be afraid to take a break from writing completely for a day here and there – often you’ll bounce back refreshed for it. Of course, don’t let this turn into several days (unless you’re like me and work better under pressure).
  5. Drink enough coffee. By enough I mean some but not too much. Might sound obvious, but I find 2-3 coffees in the morning before I write gets me perked nicely to focus for a couple of hours if need be. Less than 2 and I’m too sleepy and daydreamy, more than 3 and I get hyped up and go for random jogs to the shops to buy chocolate to further my sugar high to…yeah anyway. Point is, you know how much coffee you drink on average – regulate it around your writing schedule to help you focus at your best when you do write! (And if you don’t drink coffee, do the same with tea. If you don’t drink tea…erm…water? Actually, you know, water does help you to concentrate? Anyway, I meant to stop this point 3 lines ago).

I hope all of you attempting Camp NaNoWriMo are managing to keep up and write some cool stories (or whatever you are writing, remembering it’s a bit more flexible than the regular NaNoWriMo). And if you are behind, don’t panic – there’s still a full week left! If there’s even the slightest chance you can finish on time, I say go for it – you might be surprised what the pressure can help you produce!

Good luck fellow writers/lunatics!

The Illustrated Guide to my first day of Camp NaNoWriMo

As many of you know, yesterday I began both Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo – two crazy writing challenges that will keep me busy throughout April, and that which many of you are also attempting. I hit both goals – write a thousand words for the former and a poem for the latter, but I still had a bit of creative energy left so I attempted to draw an illustration to go with part of my story.

Please keep in mind I haven’t drawn much for about 15, 16 years (since I was about 11), so it’s not amazing. Also I only spent a few minutes on it. But mostly it was for a bit of fun, and to reveal a random detail about my first short story that will in no way explain what the heck my story is about. So without further ado…


It reads: "Today he had a specific mission - release his droppings on a Mr Evan Wigbottom." Taken from the second paragraph of my first short story (as yet untitled).

It reads: “Today he had a specific mission – release his droppings on a Mr Evan Wigbottom.” Taken from the second paragraph of my first short story (as yet untitled).

How is everybody else going with their various creative projects?

Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo, or Why I’ll Lose My Mind In April

As you all know, I’m a little crazy.

Oh, sit down and stop applauding and nodding so vigorously, would you? Sheesh!

Anyway, as you also possibly know if you’re a long time reader of my blog, I like writing challenges. I like to push myself with my writing because I believe it does help me to become a better writer over time, and as much as I would love to become a published novelist I refuse to publish anything until I feel I’m a strong enough writer to let my work go free into the world (well, not actually free because…anyway you get the point).

So next month, in April, it appears I am taking not one but TWO challenges. Yeah, who’s crazy now huh? Oh right, it’s still me.

2014 Camp Nano-Participant-Vertical-BannerAnyway, I have just signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. Remember that crazy novel writing month thing I do every November? This is their other event that you can do in April and another month of the year (I think July). It’s much more flexible, so at the moment I have set it to just 30 000 words that month and I am writing short stories instead. The other thing I have signed up for is NaPoWriMo, the poetry event where I write 30 poems in 30 days. So basically each day of April I’ll be writing 1000 words worth of short story plus a poem. More than likely next month will be the month I suddenly get a job and start learning Swedish at an increasing pace (goodbye sleep).

For more information: – for all your Camp NaNoWriMo needs. If you want to find my profile it’s at – I would love to contact others who are doing it on there. It would be good to get a cabin of people I already know online (I’m not fully sure how this cabin system works yet). – The site for NaPoWriMo is very simple and straightforward, but you can join up and it would be great to see extra support for this growing event.

Let me know on either of these sites, my Twitter or of course on here if you are joining in on either of these events – it’s always great to take on these challenges with other amazing writers!

Teaching writing by demonstration (a nerve-wrecking experience)

As some of you might be aware, when I’m not busy with reading, writing and the various other things I do with my life, I’m busy pretending to be a normal person by working as a high school teacher. I teach students mostly aged between 12 and 18, and although I am trained in English and History, I teach other subjects too, such as Mathematics.

For a couple of weeks, I have been teaching, among various classes, what is called an “Extension English” class to two of the older students – a class specifically designed for students who love reading and writing, to help them extend their talents in the area. They are currently looking at Gothic literature (particularly The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole), and recently wrote their own short stories in this genre for an assessment task. For the few lessons I have them, I have been helping them restructure and rewrite their stories in a less linear, more tension-filled manner.

And at the end of the first week (I only see them once a week for a couple of hours), I said something really stupid: “I know, how about I write my own short story to show you how I do it?”

Goodness knows why I suggested this, but the suggestion met with approval, and that was it, I was locked in. The rules were simple – it had to be in a Gothic setting, and it had to contain a shadow, a reflection, and a premonition. For the sake of showing them non-linear narrative structure, I also decided I needed to start my story in the middle, and use flashbacks to slowly reveal parts of the story. I also needed to keep it short, which is a challenge for me on the best of days.

I found myself busy for most of the intervening week, and ended up writing the whole 3000 word story in the space of a couple of hours squeezed into some spare time here and there. Actually, despite the complete lack of planning, and also my complete lack of experience in the genre, the story worked its way onto the page (or screen) with remarkable ease. I only had time to quickly proofread it and make one tiny change near the end, and then I had to print it off, hope it was half decent, and use it to help teach them what I had planned.

A couple of days ago I sat down with these students and read their revised stories as they read my hastily written tale. It was a nerve-wrecking moment – I very rarely show anybody my creative writing, and have never shown a student my writing like this before. I noticed, my eyes flicking up a couple of times, that they were glued to the story, and one of them shuddered at the end, creeped out by my intentionally freaky ending. But, thank goodness, they liked the story, and most importantly, they understood what I was trying to teach them about structure and a few other techniques I used in my piece.

So there we have it – I have taught writing by my own example! It was scary, but worth it and quite rewarding on the whole. It’s nice to be able to talk the talk and also walk the walk (even if it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece). And I think I’ve found the next genre for my 12 Novellas challenge (which I am going to return to with a vengeance in July).

How do you feel about showing your writing to other people? Does it make you nervous? Would you ever consider using it to teach as I have, in any kind of teaching context?

The Adventures of a Monkey called Bobby (by request)

Okay, I say by request, what I really mean is by dare. The idea came up in a comment thread on this awesome blog by Linnéa (which if you haven’t checked out before I strongly suggest you do, she is awesome!), and long story short, she uttered the words “I dare you to do it”, and a part of my brain suddenly shifted into gear, one that forces me to do things when people say that to me. So, here is a short story I am making up on the spot about a monkey called Bobby and his adventures. It is probably going to be terrible, just sayin’…

Bobby the MonkeyThe Adventures of a Monkey called Bobby:

The Dreamer

Thrice upon a time there was a monkey called Bobby. The first time, Bobby had magical powers and could transform into Monkey-Person and save the world. But this isn’t about him. The second time, Bobby was involved in a terrible tree swinging accident in which he gained too much momentum on the upswing and accidentally rocketed into the sky, all the way to the moon, where he still resides to this very day. But the third time, oh the third time, Bobby was…..a dreamer!

While the other monkeys all ran around the jungle doing typical monkey things, like swinging from trees, shrieking, eating bananas and then throwing the bananas on the road during kart-racing competitions with other animals and plumbers, Bobby would sit there, staring off into the distance, dreaming of the day he would become a rock star, or reflecting on the moment in his future in which he hoped he would circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon, or laughing about that time he went wandering and accidentally discovered that magic lamp that had the genie in it.

“Oh that’s right, the lamp!”

Bobby smacked his forehead in embarrassment, and ran back to the secret tree with the hole in the trunk in which he had placed the magic lamp, carefully concealing it with a sign which said “No magik lampz in here”, only with the ‘e’s back to front, because he had never paid much attention in monkey school. He peeled the sign off, but in the hole there was no lamp, only a small letter that said “Actually there was a magik lamp in here. Did you know that?” Bobby looked at the letter, hoping for a clue as to its author, when he heard snickering behind him. He spun around and gasped.

“Billy! Give me back my lamp?” he accidentally asked as a sudden one-off hiccup caused him to inflect his sentence at the end turning it into a question.

“Why? What’s in it? Is it chocolate? Or bananas? Or chocolate bananas?”

“What? No. Weirdo. It’s a genie, duh.”

“Ohhh. Intriguing.”

Then Billy started rubbing the lamp, and Bobby shouted no, which was great for dramatic effect but really achieved nothing, and Bobby would have been much better off to have darted forward and tried to snatch the lamp out of Billy’s hand first, rather than shouting no, waiting a couple of seconds, and then leaping forward too late, causing both monkeys to fall out of the tree as the genie flew out of the lamp, which tumbled downwards as well due to this thing called gravity, thus pulling the genie, forever attached to his miniature home, down as well.

Bobby, Billy, the lamp, and the genie, who was essentially a neon pink gaseous being shaped like a giant teddy bear for the sake of not conforming to stereotypes, all lay upon the ground, groaning and moaning.

“Oh I wish we hadn’t just fallen out of that tree,” mumble Billy, and suddenly all of them were back up in the tree.

“What the? Billy! I wish you wouldn’t open your mouth and do stupid things like waste wishes!”

Suddenly Billy’s mouth was covered with duct tape, which, when he tried to peel it off, appeared to be permanently stuck.

“Mmm, mmm mmmmmmm mmm. Mmm mm,” Billy tried to say, with a complete lack of success.

“Last wish?” asked the genie, wiggling his glowing eyebrows that looked like fairy floss.

Bobby stopped for a moment and thought. He was a dreamer. All he had ever wanted was to get out of this place, to do something bigger, to see the world. But on the other hand, his friend would never be able to talk again if he didn’t reverse the effects of the last wish that was made. He smiled at Billy, who, after coming to the assumption that Bobby was about to make his last wish an act of kindness, tried smiling back.

Moments later, Bobby was on a giant stage floating through the air while being held up by several hot air ballons, strumming his guitar to hundreds of thousands of heavy metal fans, all sitting atop trees watching the coolest rock show ever. And Billy never spoke again.

Rock star BobbyThe End

The moral of this story is: you probably shouldn’t read my stories because they’re a bit silly sometimes.