The Final Countdown – Zero

Well… that’s it. I’m leavin on a jet plane, and all that other Jonny Denver type stuff. As they say where I come from: “It’s all over bar the shoutin'” Of course, in this particular case, “the shoutin” involves packing my few remaining possessions; dragging 50kg of luggage (each) in 3 seperate cases (each), through the deep snow to the subway station; catching a train, then a bus, then a plane; being picked up from the airport, and living under someone else’s roof for the next week or so until my wife and I find somewhere to live. So if we’re gonna stick with the fighting analogies, I haven’t even spilled the other bloke’s drink yet. But it’s all over as far as the blog posts about my moving are concerned. I am writing this post on Monday the 26th, and it is scheduled for release at the exact minute we are due to land in the UK. Plane landing by sunrise So… once again, you must endure the anguish of my absence. At least for a little while. What will I be blogging about when I return? Your guess is as good as mine. Well… I suppose I could make a slightly more educated guess than you guys and say that it’s likely to be about my new house, and my new job (back to being self-employed now). I do have one or two things in the pipeline to keep you occupied until next we meet, and they have been a very long time coming. So, I will see you again soon. If you don’t believe me… take a look at this video. And the next time someone hears me say “Hmmm… I think I’ll kill myself off in this weeks video. I just want to try out this new effect!” STOP ME and say: “Jimbot… don’t do it. The storyteller in you is a perfectionist monster, and you know where this will lead.” Normally I sign off by saying goodbye, but on this occasion I will just say those 3 little words I have been desperately waiting to say for almost 3 years: I’m back baby!!

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Calling Occupants

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.

Nothing to see here… or there.

Hello fans! (though after 37 years I think it would be easier if I just called you Mum?)

Since we last met, I have found; signed up to; and fallen out with, a webhost. I have (on the advice of my little brother) purchased the domain at least. It exists now, only as part of a neural interactive simulation, which we call The Matr… sorry, I went off on one there. Ahem… It exists only in domain-parking-page form for now. I’ll post the link in the menu, but there ‘ent nowt t’see.

No further replies from literary agents as yet. I’m taking this as a good sign, although all it really means is that, when the rejections come, they won’t say: “Unfortunately, we do not represent fantasy fiction”, they’ll say: “Sorry, we do not represent authors of such utter dross.”

Aww! Look at me; all grown up and optimistic.

I have finally purchased video-editing software, so I can get on with editing the Vlogs… right?

WRONG! Now it becomes apparent that my poky little computer can’t handle editing video footage. Well it can… sort of. There just seems to be a bit of a communication problem. The unfortunate consequence of which is that when I ask it to do something really complicated like, say, splitting a piece of 10 second video IN HALF! It misunderstands, and thinks I’ve just asked it to take all the water in the Pacific Ocean, and put in on the moon, using only a bent teaspoon and a Wilko bath sponge.

On the lighter side of the news: I might have to move house again. That would make it 24 addresses for me.

A rolling stone gathers no moss, but then who wants moss on their stones anyway? Sure, it looks nice in a miniature waterfall, at the side of a garden pond, but underfoot it’s goddamn dangerous!