Plateau 2: Plateau Harder
Another plateau. Sorry, folks. I normally like to come here with something planned, but I got distracted by my new short story this morning. I sat down with a plan of changes I wanted to make to the current draft and totally forgot I had this blog to tackle first. True, it’s a rod I made for my own back, but I’m no quitter. I can figure this out. I just probably shouldn’t be doing that in front of you. You’re going to need to bear with me. This week has pretty much reduced to me to doing all my thinking out loud.
There really is nothing quite like moving house to strip all the patience and calm from your bones and leave you stark and stretched thin.
It all seemed to be going quite well until the beginning of this week, when we found two solicitors had decided to turn our move into some sort of grudge match. As they locked heads we felt the impact through every part of our sale and our purchase. It wasn’t fun.
One of the fun side effects has been a swift kick to the body clock. I’m tired all the goddamn tired now but, when I go to bed, I’m waking up every hour on the hour. Not just waking up, but waking up feeling as if I’ve slept for an entire night. Which makes it tricky to get back to sleep. Also, for the first time in a long time, I can’t remember anything about my dreams. It’s like I’m just blacking out. Switching off. An hourly reboot in the hope of coming back online to find everything makes senses again.
On the plus side, a little angst can go a long way when you’re trying to craft a short horror story. The Halloween tale is certainly coming along. I’ve been working on it for around a week and it’s taking shape. Although I’ll need to strip some of the more obvious clichés out of its DNA before taking it in front of an audience.
I’d forgotten how much I loved figuring out a short ghost story. I’m not missing novel writing at all. It’s possible I’m feeling that way because I went through a heavy dose of Difficult Second Novel Syndrome but, let’s be honest, the first one was no picnic either. I really don’t see me donning the novel writing hat again any time soon. As it stands, I’ve got this Halloween story to finish and then two Christmas ghost stories to tackle. Oh, and something I’ve been asked to contribute to a storytelling website, which was quite the honour. Not forgetting, because I’m an idiot who feeds on fear of rejection, that I might try sending something off to the No Sleep Podcast at some point soon. Also it’s about damn time I did another interview for this site.
Sorry, this is shaping up to be on pretty unfocused ramble and that bar was pretty low there already.
I’ll tell you what, I’ll try and wrap this up with something I’ve had in my head for a while now. It started because I’m a huge Jimi Hendrix fan. I was brought up on Electric Ladyland, but was rarely allowed to see the original cover as a growing boy. As with all childhood musical cornerstones, I revisit his back catalogue from time to time. It’s the same with Nirvana, The Beatles, grungy early Radiohead and the Swordfish Trombone era Tom Waits.
Last year, the BBC ran a documentary about Hendrix that was pretty in depth and neatly coincided with me digging out my Hendrix albums. I recorded it and set aside a couple of hours to really soak it in with a beer or two.
There was a huge amount of unseen footage of Jimi throughout the programme and, Hendrix being Hendrix, he was stoned for a lot of it. One of the final clips they played of him right from before the credits had him looking straight at the camera and saying something along the lines ‘Hey, we will see each other again when the time is right’. I can’t remember the exact wording, but this is Hendrix. You know he made it sound incredibly trippy and universal whilst being comfortably casual about spouting it. It was very ‘maybe we’ll meet the next life, when we’re both cats’, only not quite as tacky. (Take that, Vanilla Sky!)
As the credits ran, I remember thinking it was a very Hendrix thing to end on. Something spiritual but done with a wry smile. It made me smile and toyed just a little with my own constant morbid nature. It was nice to think he was onto something. It was nice to think the grand peacock of majestic guitar had channelled a bit of wisdom in through my ears.
Half distracted, I went to stop the recording but pressed the wrong button. My fat fingers skipped back two minutes and there was Hendrix saying he’d see me again, when the time was right.
As the credits ran a second time, I didn’t stop them. I still can’t quite explain it, but I felt like I’d tripped over some universal secret that I’m still struggling digest.
Maybe all that trippy mysticism is just an elaborate bit of window dressing for something modern technology can bring to our lives at the press of a very normal button. I mean, Jimi wasn’t wrong, I did see him again. Only it didn’t take a trip into the undiscovered country to pull it off, I just had to hit rewind in the millennia after he said those words to a camera. He hadn’t lied, he’d just misunderstood the method.
I’m having something similar happen with a haunting at the moment. My dead grandmother is haunting me on Facebook. I probably shouldn’t sound so trite about this, but it’s odd more than it is tragic.
A couple of years ago, my cousin set her up on Facebook. They felt between them it was a good way for her to keep in touch with the grandkids and great grandkids down south. As with a lot of those grandparent Facebook presences, there’s little more than a couple of photos to see. Still, she occasionally pops up in a list of people I might like to be friends with. This happened last week, when it would’ve been her birthday. I found myself looking over her page and realising just how much she’d aged in her final year, when age decided to clamber up on her shoulders.
I’m guessing her page will always be there now. Which is fine, in a way. No one is monitoring it, as far as I know. She’s just out there in the swirling empire of social media now. A presence beyond her lifespan, there for her friends and family to stumble upon once in a while. It’s a very gentle sort of haunting. I don’t see Blumhouse making a movie about it.
She normally appears in my online peripheral version after I’ve posted something defeatist or a little sick. A polite reminder that I’m not behaving.
As technology takes a stronger foothold in our lives, which is no bad thing for the record, I think it has the potential to become an incredibly interesting way to interpret old mysticisms. Look at this blog. There’s a Greek myth style torture story here somewhere. I’m the one who couldn’t the resist the obligation to sit and do this, even though I had no idea what to write. It pulled me away from work people are going to come and watch. My own vanity trapped me at this desk.
There’s definitely a story here. It’s just, instead of forcing a builder up a hill only have it roll back down again or having your liver pecked out daily by seagulls, this is about someone undeniably compelled by the need to share their thoughts to anyone who might be listening, regardless of their actual life. It’s Narcissus unable to look away from the reflection. It’s Orpheus having to look over his shoulder as he steps out of Hades.
Never mind doing this weekly. Imagine if the blog was daily or hourly. They’d end up blogging about blogging. Narrating their life and their torture. Over and over again. Unable to stop. Unable to move onto what they’re supposed to be doing. I suppose it’s a near perfect punishment for some in the twenty first century.
You can imagine someone locked forever in the hunt for the perfect selfie or posting pictures of meals that they never have time to eat because it’s swapped for more and more beautiful food that they just have to keep sharing. Sharing pictures until they starve to death.
Okay, I just gave myself some more short stories to work on when I get done here.