Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Running To Stand Stand Still - What It's About

This post is a little later than I wanted it to be. This is because a few things have gotten in the way. I've moved up to a bigger room in my house, meaning that I now actually have space to breathe amongst all the comic books and general geeky stuff. And some Londoner friends descended upon us for our annual weekend of drinking and being forced to dress up in embarrassing costumes. But probably the biggest one is that thinking about this story again has made me quite depressed. Running to Stand Still started life through the frustrations that I feel with the modern world, and going back over the plot has brought those frustrations to the surface to the surface again. All of which has led to a very unproductive Chris, something which needs to stop now. So, without further ado, here is the plot of Running To Stand Still, my first novel.

Five years ago, something wonderful happened. A man named James, who vanished mysteriously a few years ago without trace, reappeared suddenly in Trafalgar Square, able to perform the most amazing feats. Amongst other things, he could fly - properly fly, not just that fake levitation crap some magicians pull off - create images in the air, and teleport from one place to another instantaneously. People doubted it at first, but everyone who saw him in the flesh believed that it all was true. The best part was that the ability to use magic resided dormant inside everybody, just waiting to be found and unlocked. Soon enough James started to help people to unlock The Spark, the thing that allowed us to harness this power, and before too long people everywhere were learning how to magic. People were excited, certain that this discovery heralded the dawn of a new golden age for mankind where all our dreams would come true.

Come forward to the present day and, well... not much has changed really. Magic has made certain aspects of life better, but for the most part it's just slotted into our world without making too many massive changes. Greg Summers was in a dead-end job, not really knowing what to do with his life, when magic came along, and was sure that it was the thing that would change his life. One of the First Awakened, the first group of people who unlocked The Spark with help from James, he did amazing things for a while, before settling down into a job in marketing making magical advertising displays. Without really wanting it to, his life has gone from one rut to another. Attending a thirtieth birthday party makes him realise that his own thirtieth isn't too far away, and with that he notices just how unsatisfied he is in his life.

After a fair amount of moping around, he decides to do something about it. It's clear to him that he isn't finding what he wants where he is, so he quits his job and decides to go on a road trip to meet up with the rest of the First Awakened and attempt to find some corner of the world that he can exist in. Accompanied by Steve, a perpetually unemployed person who gave up on finding the right job a while ago, and Sally, another of the First Awakened who found her part of the world only to have it taken away from her, he sets out on a voyage of self-discovery. Along the journey, the three experience wonders as they find the parts of the world where people have retained that sense of wonder that magic brought along and have done amazing things with the power, Sally and Greg realise that they still have feelings for each other after a brief hook-up five years ago, and the whole thing leads to a climax where... well, that would be telling ;).

So that's what it's about in a (fairly big) nutshell. As for What It's About, it's basically a huge rant on society. I hate society. It's been set up over the years in such a way that discourages anything too far away from the norm. Anything creative, anything too different needs to be quietly pushed away to one side as it doesn't really help you be a nice productive person doing their bit to make sure the world keeps working. Now I understand why things are this way, as it helps the world to run, but that doesn't make it suck any less. We live in a world of wonders. Take the internet for example. I'm typing these words now, and when I click 'Publish post' they will go up for anyone to read, even on the other side of the world! That's just mind-boggling, and it's just the beginning of what we can do these days with the net. Stuff that was unthinkable twenty years ago is now the norm. Yet we take all of this for granted. Rather than being amazed at it, it's just become another part of the world in which we live in. It's been dragged down to an everyday level because that's the only way we can deal with it, and to be perfectly honest that sucks. And that is what has happened to magic in the world Running To Stand Still takes place in. Most people just can't deal with the new possibilities that magic opens up, and so without really realising it they've dragged it down to a level where they can understand and cope with it.

At the same time we depend upon things like this. People are always searching for some kind of meaning to their lives, and we can all too easily depend on something else to find that answer for us, or delude ourselves into thinking that we’ve found the answer when it’s just a stop-gap solution.

But all of this isn't true of everybody. There are people out there who can look past the superficial and see the world for what it really is, who realise that they have the potential to do so much more with their lives. But because the world isn't made for people like them, it makes it that much harder for them to do anything as they can get too bogged down by day-to-day existence. They are pushed to the boundaries, where they have to find like-minded individuals and carve out niches for themselves.

And all of this ranting ties into the story. Greg, Steve and Sally are three people who don’t fit into the everyday world, and they never will. They simply aren’t a match for it. They need to go out and find the parts of the world where magic is still magical, find those little gaps in the world where people like them can be themselves. And they need to get out there and find it themselves, and not hope that it will come to them.

Okay, I’ve once again rambled on for too long, and I probably haven’t explained everything properly, but I’m getting tired. I’ll see you crazy kids later.


  1. The premise sounds great - I love the idea that the world changes when magic arrives, but then it just goes back to what it always was, but with magic added.

    I think disatisfaction with existance is one of the things that makes humans humans. We always want more than we have. This is actually a good thing, because that is what drives progress. It's the "let's just see what's over the next hill" instinct that makes us explorers and adventurers.

    But then there's the downside. The human mind will reduce EVERYTHING to routine. I remember Richy James from Manic Street Preachers saying how being in a successful and popular band was what they dreamed of forever, but then when it happened it became a boring repetitive grind of gigs, tours, interviews, etc, just like stacking shelves in a supermarket is a boring repetitive grind of stacking shelves.

    However, the difference between him and us, I hope, is that we won't and don't take it for granted.

    Running to Stand Still sounds terrific. Good luck and GET TYPING!

  2. It all sounds very intriguing Mr Skoot! I really like that you know What Its All About to begin with, which is a factor I think I'm severely lacking in with my own stuff. Knowing that you have something important to say and using your story to say it is a great start,and will no doubt give everything a greater depth. I look forward to reading it ;)

  3. I read this blog yesterday (love the premise btw) and lying in bed last night I suddenly thought a little too much about the internet and my head nearly exploded. So I totally see where you're coming from!