- Holly Searle
- London, United Kingdom
- Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.
Monday, 8 April 2013
Climb Every Mountain By Holly Searle
For my brother Tim, the big know all.
My very talented writer friend Christopher Karallis.
For Jemma Evans an all round lovely person.
I haven't been able to write a blinking thing of late.
I have no idea why.
I have simply had no ideas.
Usually, I get my ideas or inspiration for pieces from everything and anything. They may derive from a minor exchange during a conversation, or from something I have seen or read. Or, the seed may be sown as the result of a social event or interaction that I have taken part in.
Now, I have been doing all of those things, but nothing, nothing, would evolve in my mind. There was no spark, no interesting head scratching frown germ of an idea. There was instead, just a great big listless excruciatingly painful dull void.
After a while, I started to panic. I started to think oh dear, I have lost my thread of ingenuity. Has that muse, the one that has kept me company simply got bored with all of the endless cold and snow, now left me and decided to hibernate? Has it frozen solid, lost forever and unable to return?
Maybe, I had begun to think like Peggy Lee, is that all there is? And that there simply isn't any more?
And then it got worse and I just felt devoid of everything. EVERYTHING.
I'll be honest with you, it wasn't a particularly nice feeling, feeling like that.
To put it into context, it is a bit like going to the supermarket and wistfully happily going about your business and filling your trolley with all of those items that you have run out of at home. Feeling all warm and safe in the knowledge, that as you head towards the checkout, you will soon be home and that all of your cupboards will once again be full, only to discover, as the cashier tells you the total, that you have left your purse at home.
By the time you realise this, you have packed all of your shopping away in the bags that you have brought with, in that organised fashion that you do (fresh food in this one, cold and frozen foods in that one).
Sweat starts to break out on your brow. You search your bag again again, and again, in the hope that you didn't search it thoroughly enough the previous ten times.
But, alas, it is true. Your purse isn't there and you are going to have to confess this to not only the check out person, but also to yourself.
You bow your head in shame and drag your feet as you exit the supermarket in search of the rest of the disenfranchised who have abandoned all hope.
What a looser.
You ride home on the bus. You pass a tattoo parlour. You think to yourself I don't have a tattoo, but if I did, it would be that L shape that people make with their hand whilst holding it to their forehead and mouthing the word Looser at you.
You return home. It is cold. Your cupboards are empty, and so is your mind and your heart.
You try to read. But all the books that you start, you find no enjoyment in at all. They offer none of the much needed escapism that you need. Their words mock your own inability to write anything yourself.
As you read, you think, I could have written this. Then your inner daemon places its hand on its forehead and mouths Looser.
You stoically agree and close the book and toss it on the floor by the side of your bed. It joins several other books as it lands with a muffled thud.
You think like Scarlet O’Hara and tell yourself that tomorrow is another day. But the next day and the day after that, and the day after that, the void just continues to expand at an alarming rate.
You loose your sense of humour.
Your writer friend tells you not to worry and to stop thinking about it so much.
But the void follows you everywhere that you go. It is like an additional shadow, you can't shake it.
You think to yourself, if I can't write, I am fecked. Who am I without writing something, anything? You concluded your worse fears that without writing you are nothing.
I am nobody.
I am a looser.
You have a backlog of ideas for a series of Children's books. It is what you fondly refer to as your own personal till roll of creativity.
You sit down to review what you have written so far, but nothing will come, there is no flow of ideas.
You are blocked.
There is just a great big solid brick wall in front of you, on which someone has spray painted the word Looser.
Then, just when you think it cannot possibly get any worse, something happens.
Your brother suggests that you write about not being able to write.
You mull this over in your head as it hits your pillow.
And then a germ of an idea starts to form.
You think about the void and then you think about Joe Simpson's story Touching The Void.
Tick, tick, tick goes your mind.
And then the rusty cogs finally start to turn.
If you haven't read the book Touching The Void, or seen the movie based upon the book, I would urge you too do so.
It is the most incredible story about two men called Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who decided to climb a mountain called Siula Grande in a remote area of Peru in 1985.
Their ascent, although marred by bad weather and freakish snowfall, was successful.
However, during their descent, things started to go wrong when Joe brakes his leg.
In the middle of nowhere, thousands of feet up a mountain, they were, for all intent and purposes, buggered.
But then Simon came up with a workable plan of action as to how to get Joe down from the mountain.
He would simply lower Joe down with a climbing rope 150 feet at a time, until they finally reach a safe place, from where help will be easier to access.
However, as he was lowering Joe, Simon is unaware that Joe had slipped over a ridge and is hanging in the air, at the end of the rope with a massive drop below.
Simon waited for Joe to give him the agreed signal, but when it never came, he had to make a decision; to precariously proceed down the mountain at his own detriment to discover Joe's location, or to cut the rope and save himself.
He cuts the rope and saves himself.
Joe, on the other hand, fell and landed in a deep crevasse far below.
Simon makes it down the mountain, but with the albatross of knowledge hanging around his shoulders, that Joe is probably dead.
But Joe wasn't dead and had miraculously survived the fall. He then managed to get himself out of the crevasse, and to make his own way back to base camp with a hideous bone shattering leg injury.
It is quite an incredible feat.
If Simon hadn't cut that rope, in all probability, they both would have died, or maybe not. We will have to agree to agree that we shall never know the answer to that alternative sliding doors interpretation, as it wasn't the one that was written.
But, the one we know and are familiar with is.
And so, I thought about Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, as I closed my eyes, with my head resting there on my pillow.
And I thought about that mountain.
And I thought about that void.
And I thought about how mad they were to even attempt such a crazy insecure venture as that.
What were they thinking?
Shall I tell you?
They looked at something that most folk would consider as impossible thing to do. They considered their options, they made their plans, they packed all of the necessary equipment that they needed, and they wore all the right clothes.
But even though they took all of these precautions, things that they had no control over, like the weather and that darn snow, effected the outcome of their adventure.
But what an adventure they had, and what a story that had to tell because of it.
Well, do you know what?
Writing is a lot like that.
And I have just climbed a new mountain by delivering this piece.
My flag has been well and truly planted on it's summit.
And that, my friends, is good enough for me.
Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every highway,
Every path you know.