Thursday, October 22, 2009


In a blog post from yesterday (before, it has to be said, her reading at the Manchester Blog Awards, where she seemed quite chipper), Jenn Ashworth wrote eloquently about a particular kind of "sad." It must be a writer's thing because I know exactly what she means. It's a little bit of longing, a little bit of nostalgia, and under it all, perhaps, a sense of anxiety, like you've slipped away from what makes you tick. I put it down to some disjunction of the planets or my biorhythms all dipping together, or my other self having taken a vacation leave this husk behind to deal with the reality of life. Jenn's analogy of it being like walking into a house on the different side of the street, and feel like you're going the wrong way, everything backwards, is spot on.

What it means, really, is that I need to take some time out. I need to pull away, create some space, create some perspective, because that's what you need. I was at Brussels airport on Tuesday and could see the Belgium airways plane through the glass of the departure gate. When I got to where I thought it was, the plane had seemed to move, an optical illusion - it was a few gates further down. I found myself unable to compute this distinction. I was tired and in the bubble that you get when you're travelling a long way for a long meeting. Coming back to Manchester, and going out the next night to the blog awards, that disjunction remained. I seemed to be getting every little nuance wrong. The venue, familiar old Band on the Wall, was also the same, but different, the first time I'd been since it reopened. I remembered seeing an Elbow showcase gig here, before "Asleep in the Back" had come out, I remembered swaying next to a swaying Andrew O'Hagan talking about writing after him and Dave Haslam had took me there after a reading at Waterstones.

I'm imagining writing a story about a character who is so at the extent of their senses that its a constant adrenaline rush, but the story would have to be called "burn out." We are all fire, but only with sufficient kindling. Tonight at the Selfridges Moet bar, another episode of the week's soap opera. Meeting friends in public places drinking other people's wine and eating other people's canapes. Tomorrow I step down from the heady air of the last few days and try and regain a sense of equilibrium. As you get older you are more likely to get "vertigo", not from tall buildings, but from your environment, becoming dizzy at the thought. As a kid you spin around and around until everything direction is down, collapsing in a delirious spiral. I've had enough delirium for a while.

Saturday I have to stand up and, in the lovely surroundings of Lancaster's literary festival, be one of four writers reading from the new Flax publication, "Mostly Truthful."

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