Yeah so, walking: I love it. It’s like having a mini-holiday every Saturday. I spend all week thinking about and planning the next walks. I don’t care if it is rain or shine, I get off that train somewhere near trees and don’t stop grinning until I approach the train home. At which point I start sobbing uncontrollably… I want to walk for a job but I am not sure who would pay me to wander around the countryside overflowing with joy and muttering about how much I love this or that tree or view. If you know of this job, please let me know. I’m eminently qualified. In the meantime, it occurred to me that I could bring my walks into my week by writing about them. I am an habitual photo-taker, which is like a photographer but with only occasional talent. So my new writing project is to
I started the novel I am currently writing, Tools Down, in 2019 when I was bored out of my mind at my job. I would wake up at 6am and write an hour before work; however, I was derailed by a sexual assault which my wanker boss found hilarious. So I downed tools in real life, walked out, and then the pandemic struck. During the pandemic, I wrote a memoir which I finished on New Years Eve, 2022. I then attempted to come back to Tools Down this year, in between the second and third edits of the memoir and the agent submission package creation. Unfortunately, this proved a very unproductive toing and froing of my attention. As such, I have struggled to get into Tools Down at all. This struggle turned into full-blown procrastination after I submitted my memoir to agents. I could tell that the anxiety from that—one rejection
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an incredible collection and, when I lived there, I used to like to take advantage of the free admissions on Sundays. In particular, I was mesmerised by this painting by Giorgio de Chirico, The Poet and His Muse. I still have a postcard of it on my desk, alongside postcards of Carlo Crivelli’s The Dead Christ supported by Two Angels, two postcards of Henry Miller, one of Brian from the Magic Roundabout, and a giant badge which says ‘BE NICE, it’s catching!’ whose advice I only sometimes take. There is lots to love about this painting, but what I tend to get stuck on, is the size of the muse compared to the poet. It feels right to me that the muse towers over the poet as if it were the poet’s progenitor; but more, the muse feels protective of the poet as well as infinitely more wise. All of these are truths to me.
Sometimes I wonder if we all have a single conundrum that we wrestle with all our lives or if it’s just me. As I have indicated before, the singular issue for me is about finding meaningful work. Someone recently asked me why we even have the notion that work should be meaningful. My immediate response was Protestantism. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I definitely still subscribe to Weber’s theory that the Lutheran notion of being called to serve God by our activities in the world has become institutionalised in Protestant and capitalist cultures. Being called to serve God is de facto meaningful for those who believe and so, whilst we may have lost the Protestant framing over the centuries, the notion that we should find meaning in our work remains.
On Monday 11th April, I started writing morning pages again. This is something I first began in my 20s and kept as a habit for many years. I no longer remember why I stopped but going back to them has led to a more general experiment in trying to remember who I was then. I have been re-reading books from both my childhood and my early twenties to try to remember and recover a self I think I abandoned at some point in my early 30s: the moment when I ‘quit writing’ and almost deleted this website entirely. (Although, I realise now that I never actually quit writing, I just traded more creative writing for academic writing.) I hope I never stop writing morning pages again because there is something profoundly grounding about waking up, making coffee, feeding the cats, and then curling up on my couch with an A4 notebook