Another writing. Go!
I’ve just got back from the shops. I went to buy two vapes. I only needed one vape but I bought two because on Fridays, when I buy a vape for a treat (My only vice! I used to have loads of vices! A reduction in vices is a thing to be proud of!) , one vape usually runs out at like 11pm and then I am forlorn. It’s best if the vape runs out at the exact moment I’m going to sleep. So I bought two although I don’t truly need two. It’s not really healthy but it’s less unhealthy than smoking lots of cigarettes. But oh – you don’t want to read any more about my vapes, do you?
Right then. Away!
I’m reading three books at once at the moment. I’m reading a book called The Salt Path, which is a true story about a married couple who walk along the southern coast of England after they lose their house and the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness. I bought it from Waterstones a couple of weeks ago because I sent my Toku Iwi book, the book about Australia, to a literary agent last month, and she said she thought my book could do for Millennials what The Salt Path did for Boomers. A lovely bit of praise!
She also said that my book needs more context and ‘meat’, so I’ve been beavering like a nutter for the last month to beef it out a little, give bigger descriptions and things. This is a bit of new ground for me, because I don’t normally spend time describing things because I don’t enjoy writing descriptions as much as I enjoy writing the things I’m thinking.
I’m also reading a book I’ve seen on bookshelves everywhere for years and always thought ‘pfff’. It’s called The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. You’ll have seen it – it’s orange. I’m reading it because my brother Jack read it and said he thinks about it every day. I often think I should give less of a damn about things – not everything, only certain silly things – and so I thought oh why not. It’s an easy read. A lot of the concepts in the book are taken from Buddhism and stuff – all life is suffering, that sort of thing – but he writes them in a nice coffee-morning sort of way which holds my attention. I’ve not read any sort of self help book in years. I suppose I felt like I needed a little help.
I’m also reading a book called ‘On Love’ by Alain de Botton. I thought this was a lofty philosophy book until I told a friend I was reading it and she called it ‘Fisher Price philosophy’, dammit. But it’s quite good. It is depressing in parts because it’s more scientific than romantic, and the first third of the book, the bit I’ve read, keeps hammering home the fact that true love isn’t really real and we can fall in love with basically anyone because we just project what we want to see onto people. I don’t like that idea very much, but maybe he will change his mind as he goes.
So those are my three books. I realised while reading them that books are good for me. They help me think and grow. I’m trying to grow quite desperately at the moment, aggressively even: like a flower so determined to bloom that it drags itself out of the shady patch of soil it’s been planted in and heads off to a hilltop to catch more rays.
I’ve been really enjoying this month. I told my brother Charlie on the phone last week that I’ve decided I’m in my chrysalis period. I was listening to Burning Love by Elvis on the way back from the shops just now, singing along as cars passed me by (most likely looking quite insane but that’s fine because they’re not exactly going to stop and laugh at me, are they), and I thought: this is the sort of song they’d play in a film when a character is working on themselves. I think they play it in Lilo and Stitch, actually.
I’ve got this real dislike for social stuff at the moment. I had a year of it, travelling, and my first month at home was like going cold-turkey; I missed being around people my own age every day. But as the weeks go on, I’m finding that being alone isn’t so bad. I have my family close by, and even when they’re away for a weekend or something and I’m in an empty house, it’s alright. I have great bags of time to do things I’ve always wanted to do: book writing, exercise, cooking stuff, thinking about things deeply and not cowering from sad thoughts by opening Instagram or distracting myself with hostel people.
I think that big Latin America trip was a bit of a flight really, more than it was a genuine cultural exploration. It was great, yeah, I saw cool stuff, but two months after getting home I look back on it now like ‘was I… alright?’ Probably not, really. I think I went away travelling hoping to find something, more than to see other cultures. A new angle – a new vibe. I didn’t really find a new vibe, I just got a tan and saw some cool things. Then I came home and spent two months in my bedroom, and whoa – I found my new vibe.
The trip wasn’t useless. It was an important part of that journey. But I see now that the real things I’m seeking are gonna come from inside me, not from looking at nice buildings or speaking to 40,000 Dutch people in hostel common areas.
Basically, what it boils down to is this: I always thought there was stuff I wanted to do. But that’s not right. In truth, I have things I want to be, and you can be things anywhere.
My new vibe is that I don’t want to booze away my life, or waste it trying to be universally loved or admired. I don’t want to party like a loon, I don’t want to let weeks and months slide by, feeling good and looking cool but never making real progress. When you emphasise immediate pleasures, it’s always one step forward and like, eighteen lunges back. I want to be somebody who is brave enough to take the hard road: to knuckle down, get healthy, write a fucking good book and get it published.
So I’ve cut everything out of my life that doesn’t serve me. I don’t want to spend my weekends in pubs anymore, and certainly not in clubs – not ever again, if I’m honest. I’m bored of it. I want to feel myself learning how to do cool new skills, getting fresh air, reading. You know those people who glow? The ones with ruddy cheeks? I want to be one of those.
I still don’t exactly know what my next steps will be. When I form plans I form them slowly, slowly, then all at once. I have twenty inklings of ideas flopping around in my head like blobfish, and then the sun comes out and shines through the water, and all the blobfish scatter and there’s one left, except he’s not a blobfish he’s a great elegant marlin. And I go yes! Fly, you gorgeous marlin!
Now: I ought to add some descriptions to this article, for practice. Let’s see. What is there. I’m wearing white socks. And the tree outside my window has some little leaves on it. There’s a mirror in my room but I can’t see myself in it from where I’m sitting. There is a little Mexican skull on my desk, and a half-drunk glass of water, which I will refill when it is empty.