A ShiverWriggle Hiatus

They say all good things come to an end, but we don’t intend for this to be the end. No, ShiverWrigglers, we’re just taking a break to catch our collective breath before we infiltrate your lives once again.

Some of our regular contributors are working on some independent projects at present (expect to see more of them over the coming months) and so we have decided to take a break from your screens for a while.

We’re biding our time, waiting for our moment to strike. When you blow out your candle to go to sleep (for, yes, you live in a Dickensian-era novel), we’ll be there. Watching.

You cannot escape us. We’re always around. We are ShiverWriggle.

It’s Dreich

By: Vague

 

An excerpt from Vague’s tumblr blog. Read more online here.

 

26 October 2010

“It’s dreich. Constant heavy rain since about midday (there was a break this morning from when I got up at 0745 – it had started raining as I went to bed last night).”

The rain in Scotland and, in particular, the west coast, is something that puts off many people from visiting. Personally I believe this says something more about the put off individuals than it does the place. There is a beauty in the rain and, as long as you are warm and comfortable, it is there to be admired. I had arrived in this part of the world fully knowing its moods. I love the cold-in-the-shade, sunny, blue-sky days, but I also take the time to watch the world when it gets a soaking. The colours, especially the greens, can be stunning, the scent of the earth, the sound of the waterfalls and the burns and the dripping from the rocks and the trees are all quite amazing. Water is life, and life surrounded me.

Microfiction May: The Results

By: Lydia Crow

 

Earlier this year, I decided that I would write a piece of microfiction for every day of the month of May. I fancied something different, a new challenge, something small that I could fit into a very hectic schedule and still allow me to be – in fact remind me of the importance of being – creative every day. I requested ‘nudges’ from friends and family and received enough to run beyond May, into early June.

Here, many weeks later, is the final list of all my #MicroMay creations. You may have seen several of them on social media over the last few months. I have used every nudge I received (though I haven’t included details of what these nudges were – that may follow at a later date, it may not), with the exception of a series of five I received from one friend which I am going to use for another standalone project.

They are listed in the order in which I wrote them, nothing grander than that. Some I looked at immediately and knew what I wanted the final piece to say: others I thought about significantly longer. If you donated a nudge, see if you can spot your piece of microfiction. Even if you didn’t, I hope you enjoy these select morsels of big thoughts.

 

#MicroMay 1: Boat? Check. Pony? Check. Bite me.
#MicroMay 2: Ignition. Clutch. Accelerator. No map, no destination, nowhere. Just drive.
#MicroMay 3: Even pure white satin looked blood red in the mirror.
#MicroMay 4: Dancing with the jetsam, far above the derelict and lagan.
#MicroMay 5: End of the weekend? Yeah, ok. I call detox.
#MicroMay 6: Unsettled, they sealed the doorway. But it was too late.
#MicroMay 7: “Of course it’s real!” he bellowed, tapping his plastic moustache.
#MicroMay 8: You don’t even see me, just through me: someone else.
#MicroMay 9: He nervously started tapping the Morse Telegraph, holding his breath.
#MicroMay 10: Tears of rage, heart of grit. Ever onwards, Sir Harry.
#MicroMay 11: I’ve become my own Jörmungandr: perpetual, forever, filled with poison.
#MicroMay 12: A quarter century, a thousand quilts. Not too much self-awareness.
#MicroMay 13: More than one per bullet, she thought, fanatic eyes sparkling.
#MicroMay 14: And, reflecting, the wine may have been sweet or bitter.
#MicroMay 15: Freedom! Though not exactly with the wind in your hair.
#MicroMay 16: Something of the stillness, the simple setting, emphasised its dignity.
#MicroMay 17: The sweetest, freshest of smells, promising a Prosecco summer.
#MicroMay 18: Waves rocking, ocean, horizon. What the hell happened last night?
#MicroMay 19: That which is right, respected; even when it is difficult.
#MicroMay 20: Of conflict, of war, with an echo of curious light.
#MicroMay 21: Ever-straining against invisible bonds, screaming with no voice.
#MicroMay 22: Of all people, Bouazizi really knew. And understood.
#MicroMay 23: Searching for the right heartbeat to dance, dance, dance.
#MicroMay 24: Ode to Golden Syrup: up all night to get sticky.
#MicroMay 25: Have catsuit, will gyrate.
#MicroMay 26: A farewell executed well, with joy, verve and panache.
#MicroMay 27: I do remember, yes. But I can’t bring it back.
#MicroMay 28: An expression, a metaphor, painfully inappropriate given the circumstances.
#MicroMay 29: Conflicted inside, but a girl’s gotta do…
#MicroMay 30: We’ll walk away, over broken glass, in our threadbare shoes.
#MicroMay 31: Gently whisper-creaking, as the dragonflies danced.
#MicroMay 32: Lamplight. And the moon on the water, filtering through shadows.
#MicroMay 33: Gleeful head-tossing.
#MicroMay 34: Cigarillo-smoke curling in dim light, dancing as the band plays.
#MicroMay 35: An endless sea of vivid leaf-green, speckled with childhood daisies.
#MicroMay 36: Sycamore and stars to a swing beat: our little dream.
#MicroMay 37: Curled up like a fiddle scroll, and always pushing through.
#MicroMay 38: A voice so pure I couldn’t say: forget the bitch.
#MicroMay 39: A diamond on the roughest sea, calling in the night.
#MicroMay 40: Oh, I know nothing about these things. Where’s the pack-up?

 

IndiVisual: Untitled 33

By: David

 

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To see more of David’s photography, visit his website here.

A Different Perspective

By: Vague

 

An excerpt from Vague’s tumblr blog. Read more online here.

 

25 October 2010

You receive an entirely different perspective on nature when you are down on your hands and knees. As a child we are all closer to nature by the simple fact we are physically nearer to it… When we grow taller, bend less, forget what it is to roll around in the dirt, crawl or simply lay listening to the hum of bees, we become divorced from the earth.

Gathering bracken for thatching is a good way to rectify this. As I collected the fronds, snapping them off at the base, uprooting the occasional plant, loosening the soil, I found myself closer to the tiny trees, to the fungi, the plants, the insects, slugs, snails, spiders, the little frogs, the robin who kept me company, the moss, the rocks, the bones of a red deer yearling. I found myself looking at my world in a different way, my face lower to the ground, seeing things differently.

The deer, for example. I had walked past the skeleton unseen, dozens of times. It was only when I started to move the bracken, my face inches from the ground level, that I found it.

How much do we miss by looking ahead and not down, not stopping and examining that toadstool, or laying down to observe a tiny wolf spider, smaller than the nail on my little finger.

Next time you are out in the wild, or even your garden, pause for a moment, forget about the worry of muddying your clothes, and lay down to look, to hear and smell the nature, closer.

Just watch out for the ticks…

Lest We Forget

By: Lydia Crow

 

JpegOn Wednesday evening I was stood outside Inverness Railway Station waiting for a taxi, when I noticed the War Memorial Plaque on the wall of the square. Perhaps, to give this statement appropriate and accurate significance, I Noticed the plaque. I had idly clocked its existence several times over the years – every time I walked past it in fact – but I had never before stopped and paid any real attention to it.

I did both of these things. I read the names, thought about the spread of those names and the possible heritage of the families and clans which had lost loved ones in The Great War (sadly, numerically speaking, later to be known as World War One).

I wondered how many War Memorials I had walked past over the years, without really paying much attention. Don’t get me wrong, I notice them and each time I briefly think about the tragedy of the war(s) and the deceased they encourage me to remember, and sometimes I pause briefly: but I seldom really stop doing everything else and take just a few moments out of my day to study them. To look at the craftsmanship, to read the names, to pay my respects.

‘Pay my respects.’ It’s a oddly old-fashioned turn of phrase in many ways, but one which has endearingly remained steadfast in our language, and for that I am grateful. There is something of a quiet dignity in the phrase, a thankfulness I will never really feel I have managed to convey properly. Yet, I want to try.

So, from hereon in, I will be photographing War Memorials that I wander past on my travels, and each time I take a photograph I will pause for a moment and think about the reason behind the memory, and the importance and need for a collective memory.

Lest we forget.

A Not So Vague Interview

By: Lydia Crow

 

“At the right moment in time, at the point where I had finally secured a moderately average salary, in a city I loved which was filled with friends, and a freedom I had not felt for many a year, I decided to throw everything into chaos.”

- Alexander Michael Crow

 

 

Photo 7On 14 September 2010, Alexander Michael Crow left the city in which he had lived for nine years to live in the wilderness for nearly three months. He didn’t go back. Since he returned to civilisation from the west coast of Scotland in December 2010, he has dedicated his time primarily to writing a series of novels and perfecting various craftwork and bushcraft techniques.

During his time in the wilderness he kept a journal and some of the contents of this can be found on his tumblr blog and on ShiverWriggle, where Alex writes about his adventures under the alias Vague.

To celebrate the third anniversary of his change of lifestyle, Alex agreed to be interviewed to reflect on his adventures in the wilderness, lessons learnt and plans for the future.

 

 

It’s fair to say that your outlook on life and how to go about it is significantly different than that which is often promoted as a twenty-first century existence in the media: the trappings, the holidays, the social calendar. How does looking at the rat race from the outside in make you feel now?

I always feel sorry for rats when people use this phrase. After all, they are hugely intelligent, successful creatures. They do well in almost every environment on earth and adapt quickly; it seems to me that the phrase is an injustice to all ratkind.

I suppose my outlook is different and I often ask myself why this is the case. All my answers seem to come across as pretentious, farcical or, worst of all, evangelical. This is not a good thing, and I prefer to address these questions in my work, cunningly disguised as fiction.

As you know, I’ve never been a fan of money. I’ll spend it when I have it, often on other people, then when I don’t have it, well, I can’t spend it. I have spoken about the skills needed to live comfortable in the wilder places, and how they altered my outlook considerably. Knowing that I can find food, water, shelter and make a fire, with very little in the way of equipment, has changed me. I do not really care for our established media, do not watch television as such, carefully choose what I buy into, yet I am well aware of the constraints this media machine attempts to enwrap the individual within. Again, it is something you will read more about in my novels.

And, in this Internet Age, We Are The Media – and this is something that is shaking our world, slowly and calmly at this stage, a soft breeze, but I predict this will change over the coming years, hurricane-like. Watch this space.

 

Photo 4How much of yourself do you recognise from your life before you gave up work?

Interesting question, given that I now work more hours, and harder, than I have done before! I think this point is crucial – I know a lot of people view what I do as some form of easier option. It’s not. I am lucky in that I have support and love from those closest to me, but this can be a very lonely existence even so.

When I was living out on a hillside, it felt less lonely than sitting at a desk tapping out word after word, and arranging them into something I am ready to throw to the masses. It’s an odd thing.

In many ways finding differences in myself is harder than finding similarities. I suppose there are the obvious things – I’ve gone off drinking, which still seems odd to me. I’ve also been smoke free for some time now. I am in bed earlier, and up earlier. I love thinking how I am sitting at my desk working within minutes of waking.

I think my time in the city built me, prepared me, in ways that differed from my upbringing in Orkney. Now, a return to the sea, and to Scotland, has led me in a different direction – does it mean I am a different person? No, but I am growing, aging, maturing (like a ripe cheese? Or fine wine?) – and ensuring I have a lot of fun whilst doing so – I get annoyed by too-serious-writer-types.

 

Three years on, what was your defining moment of being in the wilderness? Was there something which happened (or maybe two or three things that happened) that have stayed with you more than your other wilderness experiences?

Difficult one, given that the experience as a whole was what I often think back to, the days blurring, the sunsets merging. If you have ever spent time out in wild places, you realise that it takes a small while (sometimes days) before you start to move at the speed of the nature. It is a slower speed in many ways, yet it is one that takes in everything around you, your senses start to pick things up that are otherwise missed in our modern hurry and haste.

Learning to keep this skill with me is perhaps the most defining thing that has stayed with me – it is with me in everything I do, so I guess it has to be that. I think more and say less now due to this.

In terms of events, I suppose tracking a wildcat was very special, and narrowly avoiding death by meteorite is something I often think of, as is building a home which withstood everything nature threw at it. Finding a woman, of all things! who was willing and able to share my love of the wilderness and get what I see in it (even with the ticks and the clegs) was also very, very, special – and totally unexpected.

 

Photo 5How did your time in the wilderness affect your writing, both whilst you were there and afterwards? 

It was absolutely crucial to my writing. Not only did it clarify my thinking, I actually scribbled page after page of notes, stories, ideas and plots, while I was out there. A big part of the reason I wanted to live out in the woods was to gain the experience of doing so, so this can translate into my writing. My wilderness novel set in a deep past, A Time of Trees, was the work I originally thought would be my first book, yet it has now morphed and become the third in a series. An odd thing, but one which fits – but you’ll have to wait to read them to find out if you agree.

I also found thinking about my time out there to be useful in gaining a calm mental state (rather like the slower speed I discuss above). Last year (2012) I put together a tumblr with photos, thoughts, and notes from my 2010 experience; this also kept me in touch with the wild, even when I physically couldn’t be.

 

Have you any plans to head out to the wilderness again for a significant period of time? 

At the moment I have other plans afoot, ones which will require a happy tethering of sorts, but I am certainly not ruling out further adventures (likely to be had with company for some, or all, of them). Lars Monsen and Dick Proenneke remain great inspirations, as does the better known (in this country) Ray Mears, and one thing they all have in common is a love of the canoe – expect that to feature at some point.

Canada and Scandinavia are also calling; I would love to experience both by canoe and with snowshoe and pulk.

Finally, bearing in mind that I can walk out my front door and be out in what many people would class as wilderness within a short span of time, I do not feel hard done by. This part of the world is very wild at times.

 

What would you say to anyone who was considering doing something similar to you? What advice would you offer?

Know your limits. Know things; learn and practice them. Know when to stop. Know that if you enter these places with idiotically macho ideas of challenging nature, she will damage or destroy you – work with her, and it’s a different story. Above all, know yourself – and know you will not remain the same.

 

Photo 6Since returning from the wilderness you have predominantly stayed north of the border in Scotland, spending nearly all of your time writing. You haven’t returned to conventional full-time work or the lifestyle you had before. Have you ever had any regrets about leaving your old life behind?

Not my old life or lifestyle, no, but there are people I really miss. I think choosing to abandon facebook has certainly helped me in many ways; I am no longer subject to a barrage of idiocy or inconsequentiality masking the odd enlightened, amusing, or interesting comment. However, this has been at the expense of not having a clue what many of my friends are doing, how they are. I think it is a shame that we are told social media is the best way to keep in touch – my email address hasn’t changed in many years, and many people have this address, but I rarely hear from anyone. Of course, I rarely get in touch with anyone myself. I have my reasons for this, but it doesn’t make it easy.

 

Your time in the wilderness saw you learning, implementing and mastering various skills and techniques. What new skill or craft would you like to learn or master next? 

Furniture making. That’s on my mental list. As is the wiring of marionettes. Even more prosaically, I would like to learn more about plumbing…

As far as wilderness skills go, there’s the canoe and snowshoes mentioned above, I’m also hoping to custom design and make some cold-weather clothing. Many of the skills I use are ever-evolving; learning new knots, ways to light a fire, different uses for plants. Bushcraft is a vast and wide ranging subject, one no one can ever truly master in one lifetime.

Perhaps the most important skill at the moment is that of finishing the first novel. I am not far off this point, despite lots of diversions and distractions, and I cannot wait to learn how to sell it, how to get it out to readers. I’m weirdly looking forward to that.

 

Photo 2Finally, what’s next for Vague and his travels, adventures and writing? 

I intend to have The Care Industry (if indeed I do stick with this originally temporary name), the first novel of my series, finished by the end of this year. I’m also intending to launch my own website in the coming weeks or, more realistically, months, fingers crossed (1st of January at the latest!). I have another cunning project coming soon too – The Shorefolk, which ties together various skills and art forms. More on this soon.

There are exciting wheels in motion regarding some other (presently secret) projects, ones I wish I could talk about, but I cannot, at least not just yet.

As far as travels go, I’m afraid there’s little to be said on the subject. However, these days everything seems to be an adventure, and I don’t need to head into wild places to find it – but I do intend to explore more of the local area – there are materials I need to collect for The Shorefolk, and this is a good excuse to go on some long walks.

I love this time of year, when the temperatures are dropping, some parts of nature frenetically speeding up to gather their supplies, while other parts are slowing, or even gone, headed south for warmer climes. Being up here I notice the seasons more, feel more connected.

 

 

A Vague Quote

Warren Ellis, when responding to the question “What do you do when (if) you ever feel like giving up?” said this:

“There is no such goddamn thing. There is only getting up and doing it all over again, smarter and harder, until something ups and fucking kills you, because that’s the only thing big enough to stop you. This is The Great Work, and all you have to do is choose it, not look back and never fucking stop until you’re in your box, under the dirt and flowers are growing between your teeth.

And that is why I’ll never be asked to do motivational speaking. G’night.”

And I agree with him wholeheartedly – whenever I think I’ve made a terrible mistake choosing this path, I just think of this and get the hell on with scribbling some more.

 

 

Photo ESome Vague Numbers

3 – the number of novels that have substantial portions already written.

3, 4, and 10 – numbers of the novels in my series which are predominately written in the first person.

10 – minimum number of novels in the series I am writing.

29 – months I’ve been in a disgustingly happy relationship (despite the present distance).

49 – the number of novels I have read in the last year.

303 – the number of books I have somehow acquired, despite having no money, “normal” job, or income of any real sort. These are real books, not the e-variety…

1592 – number of posts on my various blogs in the past twelve months (many are just captioned photos though, so that’s kinda cheating…).

24089 – number of photos presently on my flickr account.

 

 

Alex’s adventures are currently being serialised on ShiverWriggle, with selected journal excerpts and photographs. Alex’s ShiverWriggle blog posts can also be found as early Vague Wanderings posts. You can read more about Alex’s adventures on his tumblr blog, A Fall in Time. The full set of his collected photographs can be accessed in his flickr gallery.

David: Facebook-Exclusive Photographs

Have you been eagerly looking forward to the next of David’s fantastic photographs? Well, keep an eye on our facebook page. We’ll sneak a few in as facebook exclusives every now and then.

They’ll also be new photographs from David making an appearance on the ShiverWriggle website as from next week!

You can visit David’s own website here: http://www.daviddeller.co.uk/photography/.

IndiVisual: Untitled 32

By: David

 

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To see more of David’s photography, visit his website here.

Other Than The Sunset

By: Vague

 

An excerpt from Vague’s tumblr blog. Read more online here.

 

24 October 2010

Other than the sunset, I snapped no other photos on this day, my time being taken up with gathering huge bundles of bracken, as I systematically worked my way among the bracken patches, on my hands and knees.  The resulting thatch made a huge difference to the weatherproofing, as the thick stalks, bundled together into ten fronds or more, created an angled covering for the rain to flow down.

After the resupply of the 23rd I had plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.  Although these things weigh more than dried or preserved options, they are far more welcoming to eat.  For breakfast I had sausages, bacon, black pudding and a penny bun (boletus/cep) fungus I had picked up on my walk back from the railway station, fried in butter and added to a soft boiled egg in a tortilla wrap.  I think the breakfasts in the wilds, whether fried food, eggs or porridge, are nearly always my favourite meal of the day.

I reached the end of my moleskine notebook on this day, and decided to fill in the odd gaps earlier in the book, before moving to the new one.  Every entry was time stamped, so they would not get too confused and I decided to number the pages of the next journal too.  This would be commenced on the 26th.

The nights were getting colder still, with the skies being clear and the darkness pricked with starlight.  Once the sun had gone, and the dinner made and eaten, I would sit by the fire, on the bench I had built, listening to the sounds of the night and watching the sky through the gap in the middle of the shelter.  I began to wonder whether I’d be able to capture the stars on my camera, but did not try this just yet, instead being content to simply watch.

If you have ever camped with an open fire, or are lucky enough to have one in your house, you will know the hypnotic effect the flames can have.  I am not sure who christened it the “Bush TV”, but it is a perfectly fitting name, and I, for one, would rather spend hours in front of it than a normal television.