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The Writer's Groove
Music and flow
Some days I come to my desk and I am really not feeling it. I’m flat, bored and exhausted. Why? Doesn’t really matter. Could be I didn’t sleep well - there’s one building in my street where the maintenance guys turn up early and reverse into a parking space, and their truck makes a sound like a fire alarm. Short of a some sort of missile strike it seems that I will be waking before I want to on days when they’re working.
Or maybe it’s just some of that real life stuff that consistently gets lint in the writer’s groove. School correspondence. Tax forms. My kids’ art project all over the floor of my office. We ran out of powdered miso soup. (This can be very bad. As an aside: I just went on Amazon to see if they would sell me a giant-size box of my favourite miso soup and WOW. I’m assuming there’s either a shortage or a bot-war going on.)
AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. You get into a thing. A rabbit hole. A funk. Back in the 90s a Russian friend told me you could call in to working his Moscow office and say you had the gloom and the boss would be like: “Oh holy shit, stay home, do not bring your transmissible melancholia into my shop!” Mind you, he was an interpreter, a translator and a poet. It may or may not have been the same if you worked in construction.
Aaaaaaanyway today I am not 100% there for it. I pulled some muscles in my back on Sunday with an over-enthusiastic workout and you know how that just gets in amongst you? Yeah. I have that.
But I have work. So what do I do? I do NOT sit in bed and alternate biathlon with video games and naps. No. I do NOT put my notepad on my knee and scroll knitwear on Instagram and claim to be letting the book mulch.
I go to my desk and I put on the Pick-Me-Up playlist for 2023. Whatever weird god of randomisation it is that presides over my digital musical life is currently throwing me the Black-Eyed Peas. Next up is Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, to be followed at some point by Ray Charles’ Mess Around. And WHAM. I’m sure you could graph it. My mood is transformed. I feel able to make it all happen.
I can’t always write with music playing - although usually, yes, so long as I know the music well and it’s not intrusively verbal or aggressively variable - but it is a kickstart for me that transcends whatever attention and focus quirks my cognition has which I’ve never bothered to have seriously diagnosed.
Right now the Magnetic Fields are playing The Book of Love, and that’s as good a cue as any to get to the actual work - editing the sequel to the book I have coming out in May. About which I’m super-jazzed. (That’s a link to the US edition because we haven’t yet revealed the cover for the UK one. That’s gotta be coming soon and they’ll actually look amazing next to each other, although I’m pretty much the only person on earth who’ll shelve them that way.)
Oh, you know what? Indulge me while I put the amazing US design here again.
(Incidentally I sent someone a proof I’d already scribbled in - or I may have. I’m a jackass, I thought I’d kept that one to one side. Sorry. If it was you. If I did it. Yeeeeps.)
This sequence is conceptually (and physically) lighter and easier to access than something like Gnomon, but my hope is that over time I can build up the new ideas so that we’re still exploring the unrecognised strangeness of now at that kind of level. And when I say “build up” I’m still starting from a Harkaway base; it’s not like where we begin is mundane. Now… no. That’s another post.
And that’s it! I’ve overrun into Tom Waits. I’m outta here, pigeons. Talk later. Have a chameleon. Or some sort of gecko. I’m not sure.
Feeding the bugs of digression to the lizard of literature in the terrarium of truth. 24/7/365.25. You know you want to.