The first way to write a novel happens when you get an inkling of some kind of slime lurking just out of reach round a dark corner in your subconscious. So you put your hand into the hollow trunk and bring it out into the world. You quickly try and daub it onto paper before it dissolves. It does not spread through the whole book, of course, and it diminishes over time, but some of it remains somewhere and you can always look back at the smears of the original slime and use the smell to help you in the dark .
The second way to write a novel is what everyone else is told to do. You plan a plot and break it up into ten sections. You put a car chase here, a break-up there and a sad bit somewhere else. Then you get some ribbons and bows out and wrap up the package. This way is not much fun, but it is simple in a clever way. It is like folding a sheet of paper a few times until it becomes a paper airplane and you find it can fly quite a way.
The third way to write a novel is when you have a yard with a lot of old wrecks in it. There is a bit of old car engine here; there is a mangle there; then there is a rusty lawn mower near the edge of the concrete; there is a coffee grinder near the road. You need to be a bit of an engineer for this novel because you have to screw them all in together so that when you crank up the mangle the engine runs, the grass is razed and the coffee ground. If you are successful with this novel, all the bits make a creature.
Many years ago I knew a young woman. We went out on a date and that very evening she asked if I would marry her. I suppose she was desperate to sort out her future, put it in a box rather than having it float around indiscriminately. Some people are like that, I find. They are desperate to put all potential future events into a box that will define them, contain them. They will chat with somebody on Twitter or Hinge and be planning the future before they have even met in the flesh. Bucket lists seem to be part of the same tendancy. Fix in advance and through the edicts of social convention what you need to do in the future to define yourself neatly and to your advantage. Maybe I am by nature not much of a planner, so don’t end up getting married or bungee jumping off some high bridge in a developing country. Following these terms I will never get anything done. I am what you call a trundler. I just trundle on with my nose to the dirt. I think it’s better that way.
The evolution of my domesticity can be traced by what I do with my on-the-go clothes. On-the-go clothes, as you will know from former posts, are the clothes you wear but do not want to throw into the dirty washing. They are the trousers you just wear at the weekend; the jumper you will put on every few days when it turns a bit chilly; the shirt you wore for just a couple of hours. You need a place to put these on-the-go items. at first, like everybody, I just put them on various furniture: the jumper on the back of the settee; the trousers over the arm of an armchair. Then I acquired a special kneeling-chair from a specialist back shop. I knelt on it for a bit but soon got fed up of the posture, so the kneeling-chair became the on-the-go clothes venue. Then I got rid of the kneeling-chair as it was taking up too much space in the living room.On-the-go clothes shifted to the chair in the bedroom. Today we went to Streathham on the 159 to pick up a clothes rail for £9 from e-bay from a guy called Steve. We put the old chair out in the street to see if it would find a home and now the on-the-goers are hanging on a rail at the bottom of the bed. This may not be a permanent solution. People who plan their furniture solutions at the beginning of their setting-up in a flat are living a dead meat life. They are rationalists, not empiricists. You keep your solutions buzzing. It’s a good sign of life in the old carcass still happening.
As I walked up Kensington High Sreet yesterday I noticed a man sitting on the pavement crosslegged. He maintained that difficult pose well, I mused. If he was homeless, he was a well conditioned homeless man. As I passed by I read his little placard. It said: I am not homeless. I am meditating. Indeed, his eyes were gently closed to the traffic and stream of pedestrian outside the Kensington High Street branch of Wholefoods. Why you would meditte for show, I don’t know. This was performative meditation. Although I supposed the Buddah himself went through the public phase, though he was probably dealing with public self-chastisement, stripping himself of all worldly lendings to reach ground zero in the human stakes. This guy probably wasn’t a prince, just a public meditator. To be fair, it’s not that far away from chess as a spectator sport. It could be the new fad.