The Encampment Diaries – Doing A Lot Whilst Not Doing A Damn Thing

Doing A Lot Whilst Not Doing A Damn Thing


It has been a month.I mean that in a ‘literally, it’s been a month’ way and a ‘phew, wipe the sweat off the brow, things have happened’ manner.

Since the read-through I’ve looked over notes from attendees and digitised those, whilst finally this past week met up with the producer-friend who came to the performance for deeper constructive feedback, the spine of which is ‘what you give in the finale, thread that in from the start’ (The perks of a first draft being what you discover as you go, you can realise whilst still building, and go back to make it all fit that feeling later, so he was right on the money but with extra clarity and additional layers discovered).

Meanwhile I received a proof copy of my friend’s novel to do my final edit-read of, which I did within a few days because I’m damned if I’m the one slowing anything down in this world, and now I have a physical copy of her book, which is so fucking exciting. Someone’s heart and brain coalesce into ideas, that become bound by tangible world items, and now they exist beyond the theoretical, they simply ARE! It’s what excites me when I print a script, I hold it for a while, scared to actually read it, but knowing the things I thought can actually exist, hold weight in this world…

On the play-side, a Norwegian friend reached out over that reading weekend because she, too, was about to experience first play reading, at a festival for her, and rehearsed one day and stage-read the next. We went through similar cycles of fear, fraud, failure, focus just 30 hours apart (Maybe 29 because of timezones) and we’ve been back-and-forthing since, just to remember why we’re drawn to doing any of this, and like most writers just to get a sense of who we are, and who we are to others, what we’re looking at and interested most in exploring. Sometimes it’s important to externalise the internal, though certainly for me it’s hard enough of late to look inside, let alone bring it out. But I’m getting there.

I made a Google doc at the start of April demanding myself to write ideas for any new project, because I felt completely like I was spinning wheels on the play, and Encampment had hit snag after snag. By mid-April I had a structure, characters, and ideas for a TV pilot. So I read a bunch of hour-long pilots, both premium cable and network ad-hour (42-45 minutes based on the years produced) and dove into writing. End of April I had two acts done, before my birthday weekend I had Act 3 done and by Eurovision night it was all completed. A first draft hour-long running 73 pages of dialogue, character, hope, anger, love, passion, all about a world I know enough about, but still want to idolise more than demonise. I sent it to a friend who wasn’t in that world, he enjoyed it, understood the emotions and loved some of the characters completely (Some aren’t for love, of course, some are arseholes). I like this thing. We’ll see. Who the fuck knows where to send a pilot without representation. And in a world where writers are striking across the seas. This is British, though. I’m happy to write locally. For now.

But to Encampment, the crux of this whole endeavour.

I crashed out of a competition on my birthday, no less. Quarter finals only. An email as I’m sharing drinks with a friend, ultimately imbibing more wine than I should have, but I made it through thinking ‘well, that’s that then, Encampment as a script is dead. Novel time,’

Last week, however, a competition I wrote about months back, with the laurels, announced their semi-finalists and Encampment made it through. A small production company looking for low-budget easy-to-make but engaging emotionally and intellectually stories considers Encampment somewhat worth looking to produce, I guess. And then the next day it turns out that it’s not just a semi-finalist but a FINALIST! Even though it hasn’t a chance in hell, after 6 years Encampment still has the value and possibility of being made feels like a win. After the dust has settled on so much that it was calling out to before it happened (MeToo, abusive workplaces and homes) there’s still power within the story of Tongs, Barstow, Jay and Havers.

Having said that, today I still finally pushed myself to open back up the document i started in late 2021, of Encampment in book form. And I wrote Chapter 4. A process chapter, a tedious exploration of world and day-to-day routine that establishes so much externally of the life of Tongs. Nearly 2000 words on walking nowhere for a long time.

I will make it to exciting chapters, with dialogue and characters and action and moments, but we all must eat our vegetables to grow strong, and to clear the plate for the tasty meat (Or similarly portioned and tasty goody, it’s a metaphor, vegans, let it be for my sanity? Appreciated) Having re-read my friend’s book, and now starting her next one, whilst reading two Don DeLillo novels, a 600-page Cormac McCarthy and a book of diaries from Alan Rickman in the last month, I’m really in the mindset to explore art, creation, worlds, people, writing and its power.

Also I’ve started adapting a book and I’m avoiding that work right now because I’m a writer and procrastination is 99% of the gig.


The Encampment Diaries – Making My Own Achievements

Making My Own Achievements


Looking back to the 31st January update on this particularly surreal evening, I definitely throw an open target that I have now eyed to the bull. Like Kennedy declaring men on the moon by decade’s end, I stated I’d have a reading of the play I wrote in the Autumn come 2023’s close.

I have, on April 22nd 2023, effectively succeeded well in advance of deadline.

Yesterday afternoon I hired four performers sight-unseen to use their skills of being confident in front of other people reading words with human emotion, plonked microphones on the table, scripts too (Helps a lot!), and asked friends with understanding of narrative structure, media analysis, creativity in their veins to come sit in and watch. (And those that couldn’t make it were swiftly on my return home sent the audio files, because I WORK FAST!)

The Fox & Hounds had a reading.

And I sat at the side of 4 friends, looking at a stop watch and making timing notes in the margins, feeling so very awkward at the recitation of words embedded in my head now aloud in ears beyond mine.

But it happened.

And the reaction was not a riot.

It was of kindness.

Of love.

Of understanding and genuine intent to help.

And most importantly, positive beyond measure.

A first draft and a first attempt in a medium, my friend a longtime producer, world-weary, seen his share and then some of material at different stages, who I asked more than anyone to note me to death, informed me they had ‘no notes on the structure’. A writer hearing that, the foundations of your house are sound. Nothing’s crashing down or gonna collapse. The interior decorating can always change and often does. The dialogue. My dialogue. That’s the clear attention from response.

And that’s ok.

I love my voice, it’s my internal existence and I’m such an introvert so I enjoy the big swinging bizarre specifications of variant human patois, mixing it all up in a gumbo of American, English, ‘The West’, ‘The South’, class-based eloquence and shortenings, cultural pinpoints of highest and lowest brows, all in one fine pot.

But I understand that this also doesn’t ring in other folks’ ears the way it does for me. Music changes from artist to artist.

And I’m excited to listen, and learn, and explore beyond.

The key factor here is an overwhelming positivity, a real sense of ‘this wild leap Andrew made on his own isn’t to prove he’s a writer, it’s to know his writing exists and works, his decades of learning have not been entirely in vain’.

Within 6 hours of reading’s end producer friend has already sent the audio and script to someone working in stage, believing the sooner the better with this piece, it’s nearly ready on draft one.

My broken brain’s desire for always handing in value from the first draft (which broke me as a video editor, the insisting between myself and my employer to only deliver a first draft when we’ve exhaustedly made what we’d in our room consider a final draft, the notes you’d then receive felt like a crushing blow to all humanity, because all the hard work had been done, just to undo it all and go back AGAIN to the starting board) has paid off in writing. I can’t vomit draft. I have tried. But I don’t connect to placeholder concepts. I always need life in the page, a scene or moment that’s purely mechanical crushes my soul. Every moment must have purpose for narrative, expression of character, hint of the subtextual, and hopefully something for the audience to smile at, laugh at, cry at or get nervous about.

In the reading I felt like a total fraud.

In the aftermath I feel like a writer.

Though I think in the reading that’s what a writer’s meant to feel like.

I’m Andrew Jones

And I’m nervous-excited.

The Encampment Diaries – Perfect Days Have Consequences


Perfect Days Have Consequences

I always seem to find intense reactions to every action I inflict upon this world. Not when I help others, but when I turn focus on myself. When I reach for a moment of selfishness it is followed by a swift hit from the universe off that track.

A perfect example this past week, Good Friday I got to spend the day exploring Victorian London with the greatest of companions, laughing and joking and investing time and energy in the beauty and intricacy of everything, with the blue skied-sunny bank holiday we were afforded. A beautiful six hours of exploration, of getting away from our time and thinking on those who desired more than their world back when their world was harder to see beyond.

And then my first of two trips to the Soho Theatre to witness live the comedy show The George Lucas Talk Show, a show so silly and specifically deep in lore and character improv that to engage in its open-hearted goofery is to fall into a world of references to external art and its own many many hours of entertainment that kept me sane and regimented with schedule over the lockdowns, honestly a show that engaged with its live audiences so well through twitch chats that friendships and connections blossomed and alone we all came together. I finally got to experience live what I’ve witnessed online so much, and thank the artists that kept me alive at the darkest recesses of the lockdowns. And the moment one asked me my username they blew up with joy, they recognised and were excited. A unique connection, a bond of people on screens making merriment in the worst of times.

A perfect day.

By Monday I had my first ever positive test, COVID.

So.. Yeah, that’s how things play out.

Next Saturday I’m selfishly hiring actors to read in a room a script for me. And my crowd has grown too, a few drop-outs, but more ask-ins. Scary as hell, all to hear words as people not me say them and I can adjust, a first draft, not meant for humans.

Monday week expect a weird sinkhole to open only the size of two people around Upminster. (I’m being mean and making a fat joke on myself, because I can and I hate myself so in MY FACE!)

In the interim, my old writing partner has come back to talk about our individual projects stalling, and trying to find time to catch up and help one-another push through. He sent me a book to read about narrative and writer’s perspective that has already confirmed a lot of needed thoughts on why some of us just aren’t able to process and engage in the world like the humans we see and occupy our art with. Already we’re back to just exploring the macro landscape of why we narrativise and the incredibly atomically micro of what story is and can be and how, and how to cheat it. And I’m imparting this energy with other artistic friends, and my Victorian companion with her ability to craft amazing stories and characters and words too, alone, for the world but more for herself. In a just world these conversations wouldn’t happen on a billionaire’s technical coding screen but near a fire looking over a landscape with a drink in each hand and smile in each mouth.

One day, perhaps.

And then the day after that an asteroid would crash land on me.

(Encampment is now in the top 11% of scripts on a website, that’s something right? Another quarter finalist too, Covid brain made me forget this but I mean, holy shit!)

The Encampment Diaries – Looking At The End


Looking At The End

No more than a quarter-final, and so with that I seem to be determined to retire Encampment for the longest time. I intend to write a novel version still, it’s always in my drafts and only rarely peeked at since I began adapting in October 2021. I’m scared of the need to expand, to describe, to turn things in the mind into things in the world, and most of all to remove all open concepts into hard-set adjectives and built worlds. One can allow so much interpretation in a screenplay, give artists open environs to add their perspectives and imaginations to something, a screenplay is far more a blueprint, the foundations to build a creative skyscraper upon. A novel, by and large, must be entirely complete within itself. Cover to cover it cannot be open to interpretation, it must be its own everything. My natural desire to wish connection with humans through creative mind and life struggle against that complete control. I may have to push myself out of anything I’ve ever felt and thought like to complete this.

Meanwhile I have two open scripts begun this year between 65 and 80 pages in length at the midpoint, if I’m lucky, and am chiseling away at structure as I go, much like Gromit on the train, laying down track before me I write some scenes, then go back to the structural skeleton and add new elements to move on to, sometimes they’ll mean I’ll go back a few scenes and alter something, sometimes I’ll be inspired to jump ahead and put a pin in a concept accidental that will pay off now in Act 3, I find myself unconsciously crafting moments in the screenplay that I discover would work out well as a runner or emotional throughline and yet do not know where they come from. The mind. The mind. It’s a bizarre, untrustworthy beast.

I’m struggling, though. There’s a need to make sure every character, every scene, every moment has purpose beyond getting from A to B, subtext, emotional decisions, depth of humanity, I cannot vomit draft. I hate this. I want to write a full piece and then go back to fill in the shell with delicious detail, but for the life of me I need every moment to work immediately. Something drilled into me from a young age, your first effort must be as close to perfect so that everything afterwards is only perfecter. So that everyone will like you. If you can’t be the best from the get go, why bother existing at all?

I hate my mind.

Back in March I noticed Netflix had a whole slew of films added from the Welsh filmmaker Andrew Jones, who managed to make nearly 30 films. I had seen one out of curiosity years before, and it was as one might expect for the prolific-in-a-short-span low-budget creation, but the drawing was naturally ‘Here’s someone with the same name doing the thing, actually making things’. Back in the twitter days we talked a little, two Andrew Jones’ with similar desires and understandings of artform, how could one not? So I decided I’d dive deep into his work, but as I prepared for a marathon of Andrew Jones Films I discovered that, sadly, he passed away in January.

I opened up a website to see the words ‘RIP Andrew Jones’

I saw the end before it happened.

There’s a strange sense of familiarity and ghostliness in reading your name but knowing it is attributed to someone entirely different. The shiver and the palpitation (In some circles that’s known as The Emperor).

I know other Andrew Joneses, we aren’t too rare a breed, but now we’re one down, and a filmmaker on top of all things.

And the guy never had a problem finishing a draft without every scene needing three layers of depth.

April, though. The play what I wrote, I have copies printed now, and I have actors hired and ready, a space reserved, a few friends as audience and note-givers. Towards the end of the month we will be reading The Fox And Hounds out loud, I will get to hear how it works outside of my brain and my mouth. Just before sending to print I re-read the play, timed out the acts, adjusted the formatting to make things look presentable, and then added three pages to one scene. Now I have the hardcopy paper versions, and in all my perfection I find just last night on page 87 (of 107) two letters missing. All that perfection.

Why am I chasing perfection?

Nothing’s perfect.

Just be.

Just make.

Just get things done.

The Encampment Diaries – Resting On My Laurels


Resting On My Laurels

This month has been one of those ups and downsies, so many downsies, but a few upsies too. Having burned through some books, managing to write out 70 pages of a new script, and twiddling thumbs on a script contest I entered back in September.

My friend announced the release date of her book a few weeks back and we both knew that as soon as that occurs, everything really becomes focused on it (It’s a great book, Diary Of Murders, out August 23rd, Sarah Cook, great writer), so Friday night we meet up after some intense weeks of writing, life-handling-bad-stuff and just fighting through things, using one-another’s up days to help in the bad, and got considerably drunk. Cut to waking up to a DING on my phone, a little heavy in head, at 9am on Saturday.

Some years back I entered Encampment into a contest and made it to the first rung. Not a surprise, it’s a fucking good script (I’m big-headed only in one place and that’s that I have 2-3 great scripts, one of which I managed to write only between December and January this past winter), and I found out whilst in Bergen, with friends. It was a beautiful e-mail to receive and immediately turn around to my ridiculously talented pals and celebrate together. It never went further in contest, alas, and things just slowed down on Encampment. Which is why eventually these diaries began.

This time around, I entered a production company’s contest whose desired screenplay elements seemed tailor-made to take Encampment. Small cast, limited locations, big ideas, capable to tell more within small budget. Encampment was always something that could be made for a small amount but have maximum impact. It’s set beyond the end of civilisation. It’s set outside of all life. It’s a few people in a small encampment in the desert wastelands. Tick, tick, bloody tick!

The e-mail was just one of those everyone probably got, but it’s a nice buoying of hope, belief and creation. A quarter-final confirmation of your work. It’ll go deeper. Someone may, thus, read it and champion it. Given my deep intents for this year, something of which I’m scared to take the major steps but really, really need to in March, this might just help me take the push like talking to my friend Sarah and reading her work has now helped her announce her own book’s release (Again, August 23rd, save the date, the thing rules). March I’ll find out if I made it beyond the first intake. March I’ll find out if I have the spine and head-strength to dive into an unstoppable concept. March will show in a big way what 2023 is going to play out like, the remains of the year past now gone, is it walking on air, or climbing up from the pit just pushed down?


Still, I got more laurels for my art!

The Encampment Diaries – A Year-Or-So Onwards

A Year-Or-So Onwards


I haven’t come back round here for a while have I?

Dealing with things took a long time, then managed to curve away, and then come back again, like waves upon the shore, as recently as this past weekend I’ve found myself still succumbing to the gravitational force of the bed, the singular haven to avoid all things, only to exacerbate the noises in the head in place of the world at large.

But, beyond that, this past year was one for getting back out there. Which I did. Two more trips to Norway (Oslo and Bergen, including a film festival where I got to meet the producer of a short I co-wrote over lockdowns) and finding time to see the faces of friends in the big city, and some around the South-East. Returned to film quizzes, returned to karaoke venues, even ventured to many a theatre of late too.

And part of that is in the big push of the last year.

Between January and March 2022 I was commissioned to write a few drafts of a screenplay, I had to take the steps that have been a struggle during the lockdowns and their destructive imprisonment of the mind and the body and find the long-lost creative groove in such a way that wasn’t just for kicks, for practice, but actively for people who wanted to have the blueprints to a movie that they intended to produce. Compared to all other things, this was the big time. And I managed to deliver ahead of time, reports were they were happy with the direction of the project, and I was happy to be represented through the words on the page.

As yet there’s not been much movement on the project, but you don’t go into something expecting it to work out immediately, in fact for peace of mind one has to anticipate nothing beyond a finished screenplay at the end of the day, it is the cheapest thing to do in films, usually only a few people required at the most.

But the dam was opened, thank goodness.

I binged a lot of books, fiction and non, as I looked for further inspiration, and found myself drawn to the impact of live performance (Something that was sorely missing in the past 2 years) more than film. In that, I found myself starting a project in August that morphed quickly into a play that, hopefully, I’ll be able to see at least stage-read by the end of this coming year as I try and fine-tune and explore deeper what it is.

It felt good, to try something different and yet so naturally in the way I write, but I had many other ideas that were fermenting and decided by November to take heed of the years of emptiness and the sudden bout of creation. By December I had an outline for a body horror, by Christmas I had an Act 1 written. By 2022’s end I had a slow-building 50 pages. Soon after I was aflutter with more creativity again, going out in January to hang out with a friend every week, emboldening both our creative spirits, and also multiple visits to the theatre that has given me concepts and helped me understand what not to do as well. Two weeks back I discovered a script contest’s earliest (cheapest) entry deadline was coming up fast, but I could if I put my foot down turnaround the script and finesse it in time. The deadline is the day of publishing this post. I had 65 pages two weeks ago. I finished the screenplay on the 22nd of January. 116 pages. Speed-writing? Maybe. Vomit-drafting? Not at all.

I have major plans for every month now, to push myself out of the constant waves of anxiety, depression and crippling panic that seem to set in every few weeks, as soon as I seem to take the foot off the pedal, so hopefully will be able to offer more updates about more projects down the line, including whatever Encampment becomes as I struggle to seem to find any takers, readers, or visitors to the world.


Jesus fucking christ.

How’d we get here already?

And where the hell are we going with it?

The Encampment Diaries – High-Flying Man

High-Flying Man


I went to Norway.

To Oslo.

For over 2 weeks.

A friend, my writing partner, gave me a place to exist in his world, and a population of friends to make. We spent the time watching films and TV, talking about life, and culture, and plotting stories. And things happened that were very necessary, breaking so much of my rigid pandemic cycle.

This will be a triggering entry.

After nearly 2 years non-stop the resident of the one place I’ve lived all my life, I had to escape, I had to break, I had to breathe. It was scary to go from 0 to 100 in terms of traveling across a city, a country, just to find sanctuary, but sometimes needs must. Other people seemed to have found ways to return to life, accepting the new normal or kinda forgetting it, but my broken anxious brain would never allow that, and the idea of getting out of dodge was tough. I spent all September and October going through all the worst possible outcomes just to make it, and thankfully besides a little last-minute hiccup on the way home, things worked out. I escaped. I embraced a dear friend. I spent time finding myself, an adult now in his 30s, for the first time in a LONG time.

Part of the experience was spending time with people open to the creative process, who love stories, structrue, cinema and TV, and how to craft characters and plots that can be interesting, rewarding and accepting of what works already, and what needs to be said about the world we live in, and the people living in it. With that, we had an evening where my partner and I got to hear a script we wrote in October read aloud for the first time (Read at all for the first time, we didn’t even proof it before, so one character was masturbating through an entire scene because we sometimes lay jokes in to see if the other notices as we write). I’ve only heard my words said aloud a few times, and never in such a warm, loving environment, we made an evening of it and everyone was happy to hang out and be together. To quote Jimmy Eat World’s The World You Love, I’m gonna call this home.

Being a 31-year-old, I was far and away the oldest person around, and yet I always feel so underdeveloped, emotionally and mentally. I lost out on so many opportunities, I never had the connections in my youth to push me from my personal prison and enter a world where peers would lean on me and I them as we grow, expand and explore the world, so to see people 21-27 so comfortable in their own skin, aware of how their world works and how to handle everything just threw me in a spiral of ‘what the fuck happened, and how did I never find a path to forge?’ Of course a key problem is that the entire world has continually crushed our generation from youth onwards, but people my age have fought through, just… not me.

I’ve had to really face up to things. I struggled for years getting paid for my talents, and when I finally did it ended up being a difficult situation that broke me. Trying to come back from that was nigh-on-impossible, since I still haven’t. I don’t come face-to-face with myself often, that’s what writing is for, to examine some of oneself through a funhouse mirror, but here I will be honest, and it’s gonna be weird for all of us, so bear with me.

I decided when to take my virginity, there was no sense of ‘destiny, fate’ or ‘fortuitive meetings’, I had something happen and took the moment. I decided when to pull myself out of society as things got worse, not when the lockdowns came, it was me in control of that. I decided when to take control of the art I make, not when it was best for the world or when anyone wanted it, all me. And, I almost decided when to take my life.

I’m asexual, I’ve tried but I find so much about the physical intimacy of that uncomfortable, it’s not what I love about humans. Within sex it becomes very instinctive, animalistic, even if you hold a conversation there’s a real sense of physical over emotional and intellectual connection, and I’ve never been comfortable with that. I need to feel good with people, where I can say something and they can say something and nothing is lost in some dazed or desired focus. The few times I’ve been in intimate situations like that, it’s never seemed right, not for me. I’m a thinker, a talker, a broken person best left afar from others physically but close emotionally.

In Oslo it was the first time I was with more than a few people since just before lockdown, and when I went to a mix of party and just pub thing, hanging out with some friends whilst the Corona cloud was wafting in, but in a public place where people I didn’t know were also having a good time.

This is the point where I need to accept something I kinda repressed and almost successfully pushed out of my mind, but in doing so have hurt myself and imprisoned my mind more. And it’s not easy.

The last time I was with a group of people, I went to the bar of the place, waited for a drink, and someone started talking to me. I thought ‘oh, weird, in London, people don’t talk’ but it felt like a good energy, maybe a connection?

Within a minute, she had sidled up to me, given me a little ‘hey’ eye contact (A thing I’m real bad at anyway), and then… put her hand down my trousers, and started touching me, rubbing me. It took a little time to get her away from me, then having to find a way to escape and not seem like I was in a bad way, I’m not good at things and I don’t want people to worry, but by the time I managed to get home, I just collapsed and laid in silence for a night, unable to sleep, unsure what happened, and why. It plagued me, and as the world collapsed I managed to focus on that instead, and kinda forgot it happened. Although every time I’d try to masturbate, I’d feel sick. In Oslo I finally felt ok to tell someone, it was hanging over me and I felt ashamed, disgusted, like I was at fault somehow, or it would make me seem lesser or hang over me, people might go ‘That’s Andrew, he was molested’.

I’ve had sex 2 times and been molested, but never kissed someone.

The world is a fucked up place.

I utilised my time away and got pretty high most days, sometimes it would make things calmer, nicer, happier, but there were times before I could speak my truth that I was surrounded by happy, healthy, comfortable people and felt othered, felt like being surrounded by people was triggering the memories of the night, it took me to dark places. One night I walked Oslo, I wanted to see the fjord, I love night walking, city walking, and seeing water is always my calming method. But I spent a good 20 minutes sitting by the water, wishing people would stop walking by so I could just jump in (10-15 minutes survival max at the temperature, I checked), then when I couldn’t, I sat on a bench and tried to cry. I’ve managed to cry once in the last few years, when a good friend died in May. I couldn’t cry, so I hit myself. I’ve taken to hitting myself again, something I would do to stop feeling bad inside, I feel bad outside.

I made it back and struggled for a while, but found my way back, still othered but when I finally told my writing partner, he didn’t make a big deal, he accepted it and loved me and kindly looked after me in a peer-to-peer friend-to-friend kind way. It is a part of my life, but it is not who I am. And I think I can accept that.

Back in London again, and preparing to change my routines, break back out into the world, see friends again, record comedy, write drama, I’m 3 chapters into Encampment as a novel, as I devour book after book reading-wise (I’ve ordered Infinite Jest, so that’s 2022’s plan), but I don’t know what’s next for me. Will I start being an adult? Will the world find more ways to destroy us? Can love exist outside of physical intimacy? Some people seem confused when I tell them what I am, and it feels so broken, everyone apparently has to love sex, and that’s just weird. Some of us want connection beyond connection, not just the physical, but we’ll find out where we are and who we are as we go on. I just wish I wasn’t so alone on this side of the North Sea.

The Encampment Diaries – Loss Is A Lot

Loss Is A Lot


This has been a tough season.

I was going to write this in May, and in June, and in July, August, September… It’s been never-ending.

In the middle of May I lost a friend. He had finally made good on his promise of returning home, to rest into his final days by his family’s side. I’d known him a decade from the week he passed. He had talked to folk and said his goodbyes all year. I was not one he called. I felt so heartbroken not to at least have a sense of closure, of acceptance. It’s a scar that probably now will not heal.

Two weeks later another friend passed.

Two weeks later another friend passed.

Two weeks later, a member of the family, fostered for the time being, was sent to their ‘forever home’.

A month later, ‘forever home’ became ‘actually we can’t deal with them, have this child back’.

I have lost a lot of what little faith in humanity I had remaining at the top of 2021.

To lose someone who prepared for the end and get ready to go out as best they can is one thing, two friends had that.

To lose someone who will, in that sadness of loss, find something permanent, a place of love and long-lasting family, is another thing, I was ok with this but hurt still,

One friend, however, had just announced a book deal, this summer was going to be their summer. And then, an accident, an ending.

I’m terrible at handling the end. When my first grandmother died, it was the same time as Princess Diana. Our internal grief was forcibly rejected and coerced into national grief. We had no way to remember our own pain because the world insisted we care about someone we never met.

When my first grandfather was on the way out, my mother popped in my room as I was making a film and just said ‘It’s unlikely he will leave the hospital’, closed the door, and left me alone with this information.

I was, I think, 16.

In my younger years, at a birthday party for myself or my brother, the details are lost to the endless emptiness, the extended family had a get-together, a rare time when my brother and I, and our two similar-age cousins would see one-another and kind-of get along (As the baby, I was usually ignored or thrown about). My mother and grandmother had a moment on the other side of the garden, everyone stopped and looked, and they went back in the house. One of the men turned to us kids. ‘You know your uncle Tom?’ We didn’t have an uncle Tom, we had an older cousin, though. ‘He was in a motorbike accident. He’s dead’

Party over.

I wouldn’t see my mother for a week or so. Her crying was heard, but she hid her grief. We don’t deal with death well.

I don’t deal with death well.

Write about what scares you, lock eyes with it, try to understand it.

This is what I did with Encampment. This was a film based on fear, anger, trauma from being exploited, someone acting good but doing bad, lying to someone who only had purity, goodness. Destruction of civility.

When I write about death, which is weirdly often, though, I don’t write in finality, I don’t write in the grief. I write it as the great wash, I tend to lean towards the hope of something more. I cannot cope with the inherent knowledge that there is no more. For one, it’s narratively inert to just end, but also…as much as I know there’s nothing beyond, it’s a sickening thought that I will never know these people again. I can hear them, I can see photos of them. When I see certain objects of activities in people I know what they’d think about them. But they are just echoes, nothing new, nothing more.

So many people have died, these past few years careless leaders have caused destruction unfathomable on any empathic level, those of us with that power are hurting beyond possibility, the numbness we desire now is unattainable, we just feel the screaming of humanity in the wake of monstrousness.

I wanna be numb. But also need to be numb with others. The isolation in the process of grief is an impossibility that has led to some dark nights of the soul. Thankfully it’s been during the summer so those nights are short.

But then there’s the people that spent half a year looking at taking in a child that has been through A LOT OF SHIT, they are aware of the challenges, and embrace the possibility. And a month later need to be rid of the child, to keep the life they’ve known before. The built up the hopes and love of a child only to throw them away like they were nothing.

Trust issues run deep within me. So many have done the same to me, but I guess I had the construct of family to hang on to, if not the deep resonance of what family is meant to be emotionally, intellectually.

To throw, however, someone who is too young and not had such structure into the void of life, there are some people who just are unacceptable. I’m glad, though, that since they’ve returned to this family for now, for a brief time, we’ve re-engaged our silly fun goofy connection, and making them smile, be it to distract or a genuine enjoyment of being funny, has brought some hope in this hopelessness.

Adults are monsters.

I’ve never felt like an adult.

Anyway, I’m looking into turning Encampment into a book, diary over.

The Encampment Diaries – ‘The Emptiness Is Too Much’

The Emptiness Is Too Much


It’s been a while, to quote the band Staind and their only known artwork.

What’s been going on?


I mean, nothing for this work. I’ve had no drive to make anything. I’ve tallied no further with editing, with drawing, with conceptualising in the last 6 and a half months. I’m a failure.

What has happened?

Well, in the summer I was asked by a friend to help with a short film script, so I took a week to compile that, then waited months for feedback, wrote a little more for a few days, waited months for feedback, and helped him push it to an ending. Then that project got a little development funding, so now I’m a professional writer of scripts. I wrote something and have been paid for that work, professional. Whether it goes beyond development is still up in the air, funding is still being hunted down for, but it’s out of my hands, out of the country I’m currently held hostage in, and out of my wheelhouse as I don’t understand humanity, the connection of art to commerce and the ways to make things happen. I just study people, emotions, connections, and how one thing can lead to another, and try making realistic things simultaneously engaging and exciting for the potential reader/viewer. It’s all I really know. I can’t go out and work a customer-facing job because I cannot comprehend the people in that environment. I can’t go and be some sort of loud yelling producer because I don’t know how to form relationships and be in any way good to spend any time with. I’m a sub human at this point. I’m beyond broken, as the world tries to open up (way too early) I’m not sure I can go back out there. I don’t know how it’ll be to sit with someone for a time.

Last week friends of my parents came for a stop by in the garden, on the rare sunny but cold day in a miserable year, and they stayed for maybe twenty-five minutes before rushing off. Nobody was ready to deal with people again, even ones they’ve known for longer than I’ve been alive.

For me it’s now over 13 months since I locked eyes with a friend. And although maybe once or twice a week I may get to speak to someone for like an hour, and mostly recorded for podcasting purposes, there’s a lack of time to really connect anymore. I’m only being used to dump everyone else’s baggage onto. I’m stuck in this place where I am drowning in everyone’s problems, strangling on my own, and man… I wish I had a place I could feel like I could feel anything without anyone around to judge me, or make me judge myself from their perspective. My mind is fucked.

I haven’t written anything beyond that script in the last 9 months. I’ve opened a word doc this week and beaten out some of my big feature ideas with intent to write short film versions of them, some collection of 5-6 stories between 10 and 35 pages long to just put things there, see if they warrant expansion, if I can compress them, and to push myself to create again.

Instead of that, I have spent the months ingesting all the content. So much TV, I finally did The Wire. Eh. And The Americans. Eh. I watched all of Ballers – Rubbish but not as disappointing as the other two shows listed. And also seen a lot of the films I should have seen by now that I hadn’t seen. Guess what? The films I liked before are still the ones I like, and the films you’re meant to see? Homework. Offered nothing to nourish the soul, just a lot of technical decisions. I can imagine an old uni lecture wanking over things for ages whilst the group wonder what’s better about, say, Rashomon than The Rock.

The Rock, by the way, still so much fun.

Let’s just watch The Rock right now.

And repeat every line like Sean said it. I’ve been doing a lot of Connery lately. Not when he died, only the last month or so. And it’s fun. Roll the ‘r’s as well as doing the shhh thing and you’ll nail the accent.

What next?

Fuck knows.

The Encampment Diaries – *Exasperated Sigh*

*Exasperated Sigh*


So last month I did half the script in editing recorded dialogue together. My various voice tracks laid over one-another and retimed, so now I’m talking to myself in various voices. I did something. It doesn’t sound great, of course, because… well, I’m not exactly Alan Tudyk over here, but it was something.

But there’s this element of finding the reason to get off the floor and play around anymore. I’m spending my days sat on the floor of the living room, listening to TV or movies or podcasts as my face is towards the video game I’m playing. It’s something to distract and to stop my mind from hurting or my hands from scratching or my body from aching or my voice from screaming.

It’s rare to get me up from the closes to Earth’s gravitational pull as I can get, to stand is to combat the drag, and one needs a reason to fight. We have no reasons, it’s all… nothing.

I’ve been thinking about art lately. A friend kindly recorded a small role last year, and I’m wondering, could I find some funds and ask her to draw the characters that are just out of my depth, I cannot craft a visual representation of my written, rich protagonists and antagonists. I’m a writer, not a director, and it’s utterly obvious throughout.

I took various photos of the sky this month, as we had clear blue, heavy thunder, red morning and orange evening haze, things that maybe need to come up at parts of the film.

I miss the outdoors. I miss people. I’m alone and so lonely these days, spending some hours on skype with friends, watching film or TV, it’s not working for me.

I need to reach out, to touch, to feel. I’m losing sense of humanity and the concept of people. I look at social media and just see words on screen. Like I’m looking at simulated representations of my friends.

This is not good.

I am not good.