22 January 2008
When I began systematically setting out my conclusions about the world (a.k.a. writing a book) I thought of it as an addendum to my grand tour: spend two years exploring, then a few months writing it down.
That was naïve.
I’d steeled myself for this. During those final months rambling through South America I understood life was about to become dominated by marathon all-night computer sessions. On returning, I didn’t waste a day. But the scale of the job was only apparent from the inside.
By September, following two and a half months of work, I’d written 65,000 words to go with the 80,000 I came back with. That’s when ‘writing a book’ turned into ‘editing a book’; and that, it turns out, is the hard bit.
I noticed summer had finished when the butterflies stopped coming to visit. In October a storm killed the power and I had to work by candlelight. So rock n’ roll. Soon after that I started wearing a second set of socks against the cold; then a pair of Loch Ness Monster slippers. It isn’t dignified, but there’s no one to impress.
In November the hedgehogs stopped squeaking and went into hibernation. Now it’s just me and a couple of couple of noisy owls that live outside. I popped into London at New Year, but I’m pretty single-minded these days, and other people have lives.
Occasionally, I talk to the outside world. Everyone is full of advice. It often involves something that occupies time but isn’t writing. From where I stand, there’s a mountain with one way up. So I just keep writing.
News from the ranch:
- Chloe and Rosie (aged nine and five) next door have stopped treating me like an exotic novelty. Now I’m the crazy dude that lives in the orchard. They’ve realised I’m the only adult they can punch without getting into trouble. They come around after school (where they are clearly oppressed) and take out their frustrations.
- My weekly relaxation is ‘Match of the Day’ with Dad (i.e. football). We curse and splutter at the victories of the hated Manchester United. They are northern and wrong.
- Mother and I have started to study astronomy on our nightly walks. We can now identify ten stars, three constellations, one planet and a globular cluster.
My routine: get up, exercise, collect wood in the fields, saw wood, clean house, drink triple espresso, go to shed, work till 5am. Social life? A distraction. Women? A distraction. The Internet? My shed isn’t connected, I find it distracting. I even turned off my screen saver. It was too distracting.
This goes on for five more months. Then I’m polishing and will re-emerge into society, June 2008. Getting publishers to talk to me is a different mountain. A finished product is at least a year away. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it.
Then the Jolly Pilgrim will have delivered his grand message of hope to the universe and can proceed with finding a nice girl and making his fortune. Somehow, it almost seems too easy.
Meanwhile, there’s no time to pause for breath. So I just work, and drink a lot of coffee.
Days since returning to London: 228