Old friends, acquaintances, crowd-funders and long lost cousins…
I’ll get straight to this story about spinning the fading relics of a year* into something curious and useful. Searching the nebulous patterns in my head for inspiration, milking the web for its knowledge, squeezing the light out of the night or day and pummelling the stuff into a code on my screen. Hunching, stretching, pacing, lounging with my head angled towards a page of the book, a tree I climbed, a conversation or an idea I had and modified, cracked open, spat on, sang to, ran with, edited, laughed at etc.
After getting the cart a little bit in front of the horse, and crowd-funded for an unfinished book, I had to then kind of basically write it. I built a pretty nice room for myself in a London warehouse to get this done. Thanks to my housemates a kitten arrived, who quickly became a cat (Mayo). I began the project of writing here as planned but the city had a way of drawing me in, while also weighing me down. Who knows, but I wasn’t getting the book done effectively.
*that ended in 2011!
Then Mayo, my writing companion and the best cat in the world died just before Christmas (2014). I reluctantly ran away to Norway which was the best thing I could have done…
Then I actually did what I said I was going to do. I did what I said I was going to do. I did what I said I was going to do in a cabin with a view over the Oslo fjord*. For four months I wrote every day, nearly. Nearly every day. And I chopped wood and spent time with my brother, and we both needed it badly. Quiet. Fresh air. A beautiful view. Dumpster-diving for veg* Winter stews. Do it.
I didn’t realise the stress I was carrying until I had a chance to put it down and set fire to it in a wood burner. I couldn’t see the depression I was wrapped in until someone helped me unravel it. Making writing progress helped too.
*Thanks to Gisken and John and Magnus. **We ate very well out of supermarket bins which is fun to do and eye-opening to see the waste. Please sign this food waste petition.
Then back to Devon, England where I joined the Beech Hill Community* for a spell. Chickens. A wind turbine. A walled garden of veg. A chunky wooden dinner table surrounded by lovely people. The first day I rescued a hedgehog from the broken swimming pool. The second, a field mouse. I feel lucky. I am easily one of the lucky ones who’s got to give nearly everything to writing ideas born out of an adventure.
*Thanks to my mum’s old friend Lucy and the Beech Hill Community. They do AirBnB, by the way.
My carbon bill is mounting up: Back in Norway, and here to help* build a wooden house in the forest. (It turns out you have to earn money to live). My home during the build was a wooden box usually used for art storage. Cute. With running water from a plastic container. Almost lonely at night sometimes, with my screen, and my body tucked into the corner under a duvet feeling a day of smacking nails with a hammer. So quiet save for great thumps of water battering onto the tin roof off the Norway Spruce trees glowing with moss. Brushing my teeth and pissing in the forest, waking to the surround sound of birds and occasional Greenland Husky’s mating, – which is quite a sound. I’m getting a taste for this pace and quietness. I’ve developed an allergy for too much city, – too often a crap example of what shared space could be. I’m dreaming about my own hideaway as I write here on the deck in the afternoon sun. I’m dreaming about taking on our corrupted leaders and running away from them. I’ve been having dreams of hot sand…
*Janicke, Torolf, Frid and Sol. Thank you all!
Look, I’m just telling you all this to clear my conscience:
I’ve been doing what I said I’d do.
I’ve gained new friends and a richer sense of time and space,
but I’ve cropped most of my old world away for the time being.
What will be left when I come back to it?
Then I had a holiday in Cadiz, Spain*, and found out playing in the waves is crazily fun. (Not all sacrifice). I haven’t felt like a pig in s**t like this for years, or a kid in a sandpit is perhaps better. Joy. Got to get more of this joy.
But of course, I also put fingertips to the keyboard and continued making that verbose music for you. That’s Professor Gauntlett below, looking for me at my desk. My desk that overlooked a surprisingly noisy street. Cadiz is bloody noisy, – just for the record. Quite a shock after the forest. At the same time, the city has the most incredible and inspiring South American trees; I want one. And waves, bring me some waves**.
*Thanks to Jacob and Ross. **Said Climate Change to the Arctic.
Have I tricked you to read thus far?
Above left: house in a place called Box thanks to Ross and the rest of the ‘Chequers’ household. Right: Bristol*, – where 5.5 years ago my life took a bizarre twist up trees, – is where I’ve finished this first draft. (I think that’s called coming round full circle).
The book is… NOT finished, but I’ve now got 400 pages of a first draft. All the recorded conversations I had in trees have been reduced, and all but the final family tree party tree has been edited. This is what I’ve been waiting for to tell you. Rather than give energy to updates I gave it all to the business of writing.I’ve realised the tree climbing was paradoxically both integral and irrelevant. It has basically got me studying/researching: the biosphere, and relationships, and the properties of light, and quantum physics (a bit). Has given me a worthy focus. Made me (a bit) cleverer, – expanded my mind, forced me to slow down and get less pretentious on my ass. Has helped me stop smoking.
Tree climbing is integral because the body is part of the brain, and viscerally interacting with nature creates a bond with it. Play, sensitivity and a modicum of intelligence will help us climb out of the problems we face.
What’s it to you then? Sooner or later you’ll get to read it, then perhaps you can let me know what it is to you.
Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your interest. Thanks for leaving me alone. Thanks to everyone who made writing this last year possible.
I hope you are all well and inspired…
(for now. With tenacity – I plough on).