Stealing my blog titles from Karen Carpenter? If only my father could see me now. It’s a cheesy song, I know. But, with a voice like that, does anyone really care that the rest of the lyrics are rubbish?
So, it’s been a disappointing couple of weeks for Sleepless Knight. I finally got the re-directed mail from my old address, and it contained only my brother’s birthday present (now only a month overdue) and the final rejection letter from the last round of manuscript submissions. So I began the process of submitting again, which immediately caused my printer to explode after 6 years of loyal service. On top of which, Richard (the other half of my YouTube channel) announced that a change in his circumstances would limit his availability to such an extent that we must indefinitely postpone many of the shows we had spent the first 6 months of the year promising to deliver.
And then… there was this:
I should begin by explaining that I am not really the writer in my family. That’s my sister. I am the storyteller in the family. That is how I manage to sleep at night (or not) knowing that I’m not fit to sharpen my sister’s pencils when it comes to being a wordsmith. It’s a little like being 5 years old again; watching your mum cook a delicious pie, while you smash play-doh into the table with a plastic rolling pin and imagine it’s the same thing. She is the real deal; Co-ordinator of National Poetry Day, and a poet in her own right. Her blog can be found here.
But all that is fine because, although I started blogging purely as a writing exercise, I find that I am thoroughly enjoying the experience just for itself. More importantly though, because a couple of years ago, I finally discovered a world I should have discovered when I was a teenager: Filmmaking… or Videography… YouTube-ing… Whatever you want to call it. I LOVE IT! It doesn’t matter that I’m not as successful as Toby Turner or Freddie Wong or iJustine. All that matters is they are MY people. It’s MY world; a feeling I never got from being around other writers. There is finally a world of like-minded folk out there, who have freed me from the shadow of my siblings. So, at the end of last week, when I discovered that my sister has a YouTube channel, which has gained more subscribers than my own, in roughly one third of the time, I put a gun into my mouth and pulled the trigger. The gun went click – because that’s what plastic, prop firearms are supposed to do – and I set about recording the latest YouTube video anyway.
All things considered, it has to be said that I started editing the video with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for removing someone else’s hair from a shower drain. But then, a couple of surprising things happened.
Firstly, I started work on a very short special effect for the end of the video, which reminded me why I started doing this in the first place; it’s fun, and the hours and hours of hard work, that often go into less than a second of screen time, really pay off when you eventually see the result.
Secondly, in the same way that fiction characters often take on a life of their own as you write, my videos seem to have become less video-logs and more a kind of series, which I had never intended but which I nonetheless enjoy. Since this one features my own on-screen death, I now have to take the videos in a new direction. The resulting conversation with other members of the Sleepless Knight crew, led to many new ideas, and the return of Richard – whose departure I realised wasn’t really necessary at all. It just required a little more work on my part, to keep him in the picture.
So what has any of this to do with the title of this post? The honest answer is: I’m not certain I can really explain that in a way that would make sense to you, so I’ll answer it with a short story before I wrap up this very long blog.
I live in a house with 6 other people, including 2 teenagers and my partner. I am often asked to help with homework, to help write essays and letters, to drive people around, and to help with my partner’s many hobbies; including things like fetching fish tanks from Norfolk and Glasgow, and erecting out-buildings in which she can pursue her many crafts. Most recently I have been building an extraction system for her lamp-work, and trying to help my step-son with his new motorbike. And yet, none of them watch my YouTube videos, and the only person in this house who has ever looked at a single piece of my writing, is my step-daughter. The resulting feeling can most easily be described as “trying to communicate with aliens”. I feel as though I am constantly broadcasting signals into space, with no idea if anyone out there is listening.
Then, last week, in the midst of my self-pity, I received a comment from a fellow blogger. Moreover, a woman whose blog I have admired since she started earlier this year. She is a talented writer, whose own marvellous blog can be found here. Her comment was wonderfully encouraging, and all I could think of for hours afterwards was: “There is life out there in the universe.”
So… here’s the message: If there is a blog, or a newspaper column, or a YouTube channel, or an artist, or a poet… cook… struggling actor… designer… or whatever, whose work you enjoy, let them know. Because you never know when your little voice might be that breath on dying embers; the tap on the shoulder, when they think no-one is listening, that says to them: “Continue”.
No photo this week, mainly because a photo of a noose might be a little depressing.
Be well. Next week: A return to light-hearted nonsense.