17 July, 2015

Maximum Security Showcase, or Last Year's NaNoWriMo Thought Out in Full

Note: First posted here.

It’s hard to explain what this long-term project is about. I started writing it last year as merely a short story for a creative writing class. The premise itself was simple enough: Man dreads visit from old co-workers and finds out why when his girlfriend leaves for dance practice who does not know that co-worker one is ruthless in getting to the top at their old job, and co-worker two used the protagonist to start dating him. The end result being that the main character realizes that he’s now free from them, or rather “been free” as his girlfriend tells him.

Problem was that, thinking about it, I wanted it to do so much more. After I graduated last year, I started writing bits and chunks trying to figure out where I wanted it to go. The plot from the short story wasn’t enough. Come NaNoWriMo, I found myself at a roadblock. I salvaged some of the material, unused in the short story to fit in a new character along with developing co-worker two, but everything else fell flat.

My major problem: the main character.

Even if it was he who drove the story forward, his nervousness about the whole situation and afterward drove it to a standstill. Why does he stay that way?

Then some inspiration happened on a bus ride home, which allowed me to develop the main character more, along with adding in co-worker one's point of view. Later on I started reading Richard Littler’s Discovering Scarfolk. I first discovered the time-locked dystopia while I was at university on accident through their Soundcloud, more intrigued by the constant loop in the 1970s than by the strange oddities contained within.

It was when I started following the Scarfolk blog, before reading the book, that I began finding where my story would go. One of the things that made the town so interesting was the hauntology angle, which I further learned about in Andrew Gallix’s Guardian article:

As a reflection of the zeitgeist, hauntology is, above all, the product of a time which is seriously "out of joint" (Hamlet is one of Derrida's crucial points of reference in Spectres of Marx). There is a prevailing sense among hauntologists that culture has lost its momentum and that we are all stuck at the "end of history". Meanwhile, new technologies are dislocating more traditional notions of time and place. Smartphones, for instance, encourage us never to fully commit to the here and now, fostering a ghostly presence-absence. Internet time (which is increasingly replacing clock time) results in a kind of "non-time" that goes hand in hand with Marc Augé's non-places. Perhaps even more crucially, the web has brought about a "crisis of overavailability" that, in effect, signifies the "loss of loss itself": nothing dies any more, everything "comes back on YouTube or as a box set retrospective" like the looping, repetitive time of trauma (Fisher).

So where does hauntology fit into the mix?

In the short story, the main character’s past “haunts” him through a visit from his co-workers. In the long-term project, it torments him beyond those two.

It is now a story in which a recent past colonizes the area where he lives. A time where he and his friend broke their chains from the heresy tumbling between servers which marked them. Now they click back to life to wrap around him for a Maximum Security Showcase*.

(More on it as I go along, plus research. I referenced Scarfolk in previous posts on Ello--one with a track and another with a review of Discovering Scarfolk.)

*Working Title

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