Two days ago it was Hunter S Thompson's birthday, this man was and still is my idol. I'm sat in a tea house, here in Japan, in a small town called Nakatsu on the island of Kyushu. The traditional decor of this little corner of the world, the xylophone rendition of 'All you need is love,' the ancient proprietors, it's all pleasant if not a little unnerving. Slight vibrations from the road outside, the easy and rounded tones of Japanese conversations in the background, the ambient lighting, the ridiculous cuckoo-clock that I've heard chime five times now on the hour, every hour for the day I've spent here reading, it's all nice, but there's something else. I'm left alone to read-up on theories of general and special relativity (still rather unsure about the wonders of spacetime), drink my tea and eat my cake and it's what I wanted, but there's a hole. I'm here, I made it to Japan, I pulled myself away and out of, what would have been, an ultimately terminal spiral of bad habits that was London, and I should be happy, right? Despite leaving truly outstanding friends, passionate lovers, exciting work, wildly fun nightlife, good drugs, beneficial analysis, world class food, craft alcohol and close family, confidence is supposed to abound, that wide inner smile that I've been searching for, hoping for so much is meant to be shining within and without. I don't think it is. Not yet.
The truth of it all is, I'm a little exacerbated, I'm a little lost, I'm a little emotionally perturbed, I'm not sure where my mind and body are at right now. There's something wrong here. I'm not sure where to start, I always know where to start, pen to paper, finger to keyboard I always, always, always know where to begin. Beginning, that's something I've always been good at.
Control, control has to be the place, the point, the X at which to begin. Something I have come to battle with greatly over the last few years, the element of control in ones life; the will to be, will to do, will to power, will to fruition. It seemed once, such a powerful will resonated in me. Though always unsure of where that came from, what it meant, whether or not it was actually real, the temptation of determinism, on a grand ethereal scale was appealing, though always ultimately rejected in the face and need to maintain control, that ability to steer effectively. Loss of control is both appealing and terrifying. Confrontation with this inner conundrum has and continues to be a powerful test. Further tests come when outside forces begin to meddle with the shroud of control that is such a requirement of my general well being. Remove that shroud, which happened shortly after arriving here in Japan, and things begin to become difficult, take away from me that one thing that I continually debate but require to maintain, and I'm liable to explode. It's happened before, it will no doubt happen again.
So, recently have I had come across some old writing, blog posts from yesteryear that would be filed under a varied list of headlines, some travel, some love, some microbes of social commentary, some just stories of heavy nights on the drink. This writing, it seems to me filled with such strength and such confidence, I like it, I know I wrote it, but fuck that for the moment, some of it actually seems good, it's coherent and fun. Why did I stop writing like that? When did I stop writing like that? I became bogged down with some grand, unknown and evading purpose, with search engine optimisation, with finding a 'proper' subject, and not with the joy of just fucking writing, the way I like, and about the things I enjoy writing about, telling stories with elements of social commentary. Part joy of just taking part in the Grand Game, part analysis of the interactions with people that develop from engaging in the mix. And why? Because I didn't have an audience, I seem to remember, six fucking years ago I stopped writing like that, if I'd continued on, doing what I enjoyed so much until now, would I have an audience for this stream of sometimes coherent but always fun thought? Maybe, first rule of the internet is of course, that no one cares a fuck about what you have to say. But that care will come, if you keep on at it. I didn't, other things got in the way, and in this moment of reflection, that's annoying, I've done enough, seen enough traveled enough, laughed enough, cried enough, fucked enough, drank enough, and generally misbehaved enough in those six years to have provided plenty of fun and interesting writing for myself, but I stopped, because I didn't think anyone would listen, when really, I shouldn't have cared, I should have just done it, because I like doing it. I lost a fire, I lost a mechanisation, I lost fearlessness, and this is no good.
So, as once said in a great book, 'a mighty charge had overcome him, alive to his jeapardy' and for me, if that jeopardy be fear of ill critique or perhaps no critique, and as a consequence I fail to perform and do that which is so close to me, that which is required medicine to my soul, then the clear answer to this jeopardy is to DO. Something in the past I was so good at; doing. So, here's a bit of an oath to myself, a pledge that I will continue writing in an open and online medium about what I really want to write about. Concentrating on people and experience, empirical learning of the things around me facilitated by moving forward and mixing it with research and reading that I gather along the way, wherever I can, forgetting to care again, just doing it because it's fun and I like it. I had considered resurrecting 'Jack Rawstone' but I don't think there's any need for that, I think I'm over him now, I'm a very different person, I've acquired a few more scars and a bit more knowledge since then that doesn't really allow for quite such confident rambling and commentary. Fuck that though, I'll muse and ponder and try to look and try to think and try to expound without worry, I just need to write. I've become entangled in a mess of confidence for the first time in my life, I should be grateful that it didn't happen until I was 28, and now, looking at it on paper, that number fails to seem like a large amount of years to have accrued anyway.
So, I think it's time to get on with this, I'm in a foreign land with a wonderful and friendly people surrounding me, I still retain an element of what seems to be lost, there's still ridiculous situations that abound, there's still people, there's still vast array of experience - of course - to be had. The thing with control and the person is that once the shroud of having it is pulled away, forgiving the instance of induced loss through the likes of drugs or love, then the failure to react to its apparent disappearance, or momentary shift only serves to cause greater turmoil and anxiety. The reaction to which only propels further morbid thoughts anger, resentment and fear. In creeps the need for protection, the want to forget and provide for oneself a cloak to hide what is looking you straight in the eye. I've forgotten how to look it in the eye, too quickly. I promised stories to friends and to myself. I promised to stare at it, unflinching, it's not materialised yet, but this will end.
Aside from just writing, because I want to write, I'm going to create a selection of short stories which revolve, in part, around some of the more ridiculous and eye opening circumstances and moments of insight I've had over the years whilst traveling around. Ten stories from ten years over ten weeks, dated, taking from things I've previously written in some instances, some nonfiction that'll take some artistic license here and there, and keep my mind ticking, whilst in the mean time the novel spirals and twirls in an ever evolving state, and I begin to think about getting back involved with some journalism whilst I rebuild a dip in confidence.
Jack Rawstone is dead, long live Jack Rawstone.