Songs for a Collapsing World

What a week. I’ve not been around much online. I’ve had a trial separation from the internet, in preparation for going on holiday later in the month when I fully intend not to check my Amazon sales reports, or my Twitter account, or my Blog hits for a full fortnight…

That’s not the only reason. It’s also been manic. I was a bit inundated with work on Wednesday and found out at lunchtime I needed to be in Cardiff by 9 the following morning. So I spent the afternoon running around like a maniac trying to get that sorted out amongst finishing off the work I needed to get done. Wednesday ended with me finally sitting down in my hotel room at 11.45. Thursday was a mega long day in the office followed by a night out with the company I’m working with and directors of the company they have recently merged with. 3am finish. Then another long day Friday which ended with me finally getting back to Liverpool around 10pm – still slightly hungover. This weekend I have spent clearing rubbish from the back garden, and have finally sat down after five trips to the tip. All this follows on from Monday when I had to cart a load of stuff to an auction house (as a favour to someone) and Tuesday when I spent some time in the evening at uni. Believe it or not, this is actually not that untypical of my life. It’s often like this, and I have to look after a four year old on top. Maybe not that surprising that I haven’t progressed much with my novel Hinterland.

I have, however, progressed with the sister project to Hinterland. It’s a collection of short stories that are all about the different ways music impacts upon our lives. Stealing a secondary idea from David Mitchell, I’m now making all the stories inter-relate by having characters from different tales wandering in and out of the other ones. As of right now I have one completed story, three almost complete and ideas for a further two. So far I’ve covered Tom Waits, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and, surprise suprise, Get Well Soon. Lined up I have Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra. In passing I’ve mentioned Jeff Buckley, The Beatles, Motown, The Doors, Love, Jefferson Airplane, Bowie, Ian Curtis and Kraftwerk. I want to do something on Dylan, and I want to cover Massive Attack and/or Portishead. Themes so far: music as ambition; music as escapism; music as a sort of social history; music as a signifier of your cultural heritage. I have an idea about music played at funerals, and a vague idea about lift music and the trash they play in shops…

Anyway, because all the characters overlap each other’s stories I have decided to call it Songs for a Collapsing World. I’ve always been interested in the idea of six degrees of separation. I work in IT and you wouldn’t believe how small a world that is. Every time I start a new job I bump into someone I worked with before, or meet someone who knows someone I worked with before and therefore knows of me by reputation. There was something else that triggered this idea, not just David Mitchell. I remember watching the movie The Big Lebowski for about the third or fourth time and being struck by the way the Cohen’s made of it this little self-contained world. The same ideas and themes keep getting mentioned and brought up by different characters throughout and I remember thinking – my life is like that. Someone may mention something I’ve never heard of before and within about a week it’s cropped up in two or three different conversations or things I’ve read or seen on TV. It is like a shrinking, or collapsing, world out there. Hey, I don’t need to tell you that, you’ve never met me and yet you’ve probably read some of my inane ramblings and know almost as much about me (if not more) than the people I work with, than the people who live in my street, than members of my own family.

So this is what I’ve been up to anyway. Drinking, travelling, working, and mixing ideas about Brazilian car insurance with thoughts about Brautigan and postmodernism, snatches of music and different character sketches. If anyone could read my thoughts at any one time I’d probably be sectioned.

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2 thoughts on “Songs for a Collapsing World

  1. Neil Schiller July 5, 2011 / 10:40 pm

    Hahah, yeah, I probably should do. Turn it into the writing equivalent of a wedding band…

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