Today I’m working from home. I like saying that; it sounds as if on other days I work in more interesting places, ones where I have to deal with interpersonal dynamics and sit in a park to have my sandwich at lunch time. I just want to say that I’m constantly looking over my shoulder; it’s like there’s this voice in my head editing every word that I put down, trying to undermine me, telling me that what I’m saying is not genuine, is not the truth, and it’s all just to impress others, or make others think certain things about me. What would my writing look like if I just said whatever came into my head. The fear is that there isn’t enough in my head to create a story. I’ve spent most of my writing life writing semi-autobiographical narratives – and I’ve either grown tired of that, or I’m too scared to really delve down into the quagmire of my imagination to see what’s there. The strange thing is that I know there is a lot of joy there, too – things have happened to me over the past five years that have made me happy (god, I hate that word) – the things that have made me happy are: falling in love with D., walking around naked in a public place for the first time in almost twenty years (then it was the nudist beach; now it’s the sauna), meeting C., although sometimes I wonder if we’re going to keep being friends; we seem to be drifting apart, caught up in mistrust, misunderstandings and blaming. Another thing that has made me happy is moving to a new flat about 6 months ago having lived in what became a shithole. By the time I left that old place I had grown to hate everything about it and everything to do with it: the neighbours, the neighbourhood, the shops cafes and restaurants in the area, the park, the streets, you name it I hated it (yes, it’s Stoke Newington). And I believed that once I was out of there I would be able to write. I believed that this new place would give me the space and the quiet to create. Well, in the past six months I’ve written fuck-all.
Okay, so, I’ve completed some stories, I’ve typed up from my notebooks things I’ve written for Book #3, but that doesn’t feel meaningful. It feels like a job and it doesn’t make me feel bigger or worthier or whatever. I suppose what I’ve come to expect is some big emotional thing that will carry me, inspire me, be my muse. Every time I meet a new man I want to fall in love so that I can write. I want him to provide me with the security and the adventure and the torment that I need to write; I want continuity. The continuity and the reliability of emotional upheaval. Having lived in a warzone for almost twenty years, I’ve become addicted to drama. And that addiction to heightened states of alertness is accompanied by a desire for tranquility, for stillness, for moments (days, months) of unthreatened existence in its purest form. I don’t know what to write about. Not this morning I don’t.
I have 50,000 words sitting in the other room on my laptop waiting to be played with. I have 4 notebooks here on my desk with words that need to be typed up. I’m not sure what’s keeping me from doing this, from just sitting down day after day and writing the fucking thing. Later today I’m going to Wales to visit my new – what do I call him? – boyfriend. I’m going to visit G., the man I’m going out with. Strange phrase: going out with. The person the world sees you walking hand in hand with. We spend most of our time indoors, though – fucking. I like the idea of travelling to Wales to see a lover.
My book is about 3 painters who grew up in the same neighbourhood at the same time, and later went to the same art college. It’s so much easier to say what the book is about when it’s not about me. I feel grown-up when asked what I’m writing about and I can say: I’m writing a book about G, B, and R; they’re painters who grew up together at the turn of the last century. It sounds grand. It’s like being asked are you happy and being able to say oh, yes, I’m very happy; never been happier; things are going my way. To myself I think: This is not interesting to me. Talking about happiness or about the subject/s of my book is not interesting to me. I suppose it should be. I’m not sure what I do want to talk about or write about. Maybe I just have to moan and whine. Couldn’t I write a book that has a lot of complaining and miserabless in it?
I made the dough for oatmeal cookies yesterday. Now I must bake a few batches to take with me to Wales.