It has been a bit of a rollercoaster lately, hence my poor neglected blog.
Also it’s been the sort of rollercoaster that doesn’t look like a rollercoaster to anyone else, the sort of rollercoaster that would – to the untrained eye – look like me sitting at my computer, white-knuckled.
But things were happening on there.
Last week was basically taken up by an epic quest for a photograph that could be used for … y’know .. advertising and stuff (there is advertising and stuff, that totally boggles my mind but, frankly, at the moment, everything boggles my mind). It ended up being quite a complicated proposition, since I wanted something that reflected something about me, didn’t make me look too much like a psycho, and also obfuscated me sufficiently that wouldn’t immediately recognise me if you happened to also know me in my real – professional – life. I think I got there in the end, though it turns out that there’s a touch of A Clockwork Orange about me, which is slightly worrying. It’s a bit less “hey, want to be a romance” and a bit more “how about a bit of the old ultraviolence” but … what can you do? And I can’t imagine anyone, except perhaps the extraordinarily beautiful and extraordinarily self-aware, looks at a photo of themself and thinks “wow, that’s fantastic! I look great!”
But I have a set of photos now, and they’re bound to come in useful. I toyed with trying to jazz up my Twitter account but then I realised I didn’t want to be staring at myself all day.
And then the line edits came back for Glitterland, which was zomg. It’s profoundly weird coming back to your own writing after an extended gap. It’s like meeting someone at a party and not being sure whether you’ve slept with them or not, strange and too familiar at once. Also it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that you can’t, err, actually write. I’d kind of fucked up a bit, as well, because I knew there was a scene I hadn’t nailed and I only worked out why it wasn’t working at about 9:30 yesterday evening. This should have happened during developmental edits but I’d got about as far with it as I could, since it was an Emotion Thing I’d essentially tried to fix with my brain (instead *cough* instead of with … like … *cough* .. my heart or whatever). So, essentially, I dropped 3k completely different words on Sarah, basically out of nowhere. It was just all a bit of a shock because one minute everything was tootling along, I’d done my bit and was cruising without a care in the world, and the next thing I knew I had two days. But, truthfully, I kind of work better that way. If you give me three months to do something, I probably won’t get round to it, but if you give you five minutes, I’ll be all over it.
But, y’know, I must be getting old. I just can’t pull mad shit like I used to. When I was a student I would have laughed this off, but now I’m completely knackered. I was zombie for most of today and I’ve forced myself to take tonight off and just recover, but I’m sitting here, lost and dazed, with nothing to think about, while simultaneously being too tired to actually think anything useful.
Also I really want a cigarette. I think when I finish the next round, I shall treat myself to a packet of Gauloises, and stand on the balcony beneath the blossom tree, smoking blissfully through the powder-pink evening. I’m kind of an erratic smoker. I know I shouldn’t, so I don’t, but if there was only me to think about, and not the health and comfort of the people who care about me, I’d totally go full-time. I think it’s probably because I’m neurotic as all hell, but I just find it intensely pleasurable. I like rituals, and having something to do with my hands. And, let’s face it, it’s fucking cool. I blame Marlene Dietrich and too much film noir at an impressionable age. The strangest thing is, despite being the sort of person unable to just have one drink or … err … one of anything really, I’ve never been addicted to cigarettes. I have a few triggers (balmy evenings, sex and line-edits apparently) but mostly I can smoke as much as I like and stop whenever I want, which is must be some kind of special gift or superpower. Almost as good as being able to shoot bees or crows out of your hands, right Bioshock?
Also smoking inevitably reminds me of the tutor I had during my final year as an undergraduate. He was so close to retirement that no fucks whatsoever were given in his vicinity and was one of those people you wouldn’t quite believe if you encountered him in fiction. He was completely hopeless and completely fabulous at the same time. He used to brew up some Jamaican Blue Mountain and we’d sit on the window-seat in his teaching room, smoking together, and talking about absolutely nothing relevant to my actual work. Like ever. Not that I cared. It was one of those non-sexualised authority-figure relationships, where you don’t know whether you’re in love with the person or want to be them.
Anyway, one day I rocked up and told him I’d stopped smoking. Cue a look of complete incomprehension. “But why?” (He purred by the way, he honestly did, one of those very posh, very languid voices). “Oh, y’know, reasons.” A fastidious shudder. “How terribly hubristic of you, dear boy. Why, you could be hit by a bus tomorrow.”
And that, kids, is why it’s okay to smoke.
Because anything else is hubris.