I slept on the floor of my study this afternoon. The night was the third, fourth in a row now, where for a series of reasons I haven't been able to sleep for long hours. There seems to be an organised attempt by my two cats to instigate a daily routine better suited to them than for me. One of the cats, a brown long hair, is missing my wife's presence and patience at home. He has become grouchy. He insists upon waking up at 3am to scream at the lights, the walls, the front door, the wind outside. I wake, I pet his coat, he settles and I bury my head under the pillow.
In the early mornings the writing comes out like clay. Though the mood I wake up with still feels good. Perhaps it's the lack of sleep, or morning coffee, but the words that emerge on the page have odd glints of something new buried in them. Every so often though, a great flood comes out where I have to clear it of the lumps. And that's tiring. And that's when I need to rest. But instead I reach for coffee.
Space has helped, my own space and some stillness after a frantic autumn spent clearing away and invoicing for unimaginative work. But now, with this stillness, moments of good clay feels like progress. My thoughts seem to be scented somehow with the research. It feels wonderful, it all seems to have come from unfamiliar corners of my mind. Definitely the research, I think. The things I've been reading.
Islamic art and architecture, for instance. That's new. European and American anarchist history too, which has come to fascinate me. And the politics of the PKK in Northern Syria and their particular form of Kurdish Democratic Federalism. I've also been returning to and discovering writers like Abdullah Öcalan, Robert Irwin, Ezra Pound, Günter Grass, Anakana Schofield, Tayeb Salih, Machado De Assis and many others.
I remember Maggie Nelson speaking about this. Each book is a sort of performance of a writer burning through their obsessions. Agreed, I think. I like her idea of burning through. Particularly since my first book In Our Mad and Furious City is being sent out by my publisher now, and is in the hands of new readers. I seem to have made room. Given myself yet more space to set something else alight and begin again.
I am being swept up feels like, by some new thing which will inevitably dictate the next few years of daily routine.
Hisham Matar speaks about this too, doesn't he? I vaguely remember something he said, something about being able to denote periods of his own life by what he was working on at the time. Each of his works, he said, dictated where he was, how he spent his days, how his life was shaped by the subject. Each three year period assumed the texture of the work.
In Our Mad and Furious City felt like a scream, like running. This new book, I don't know. But I'm curious. Anyway, the other cat is eating the houseplants and is need of my attention.