I was writing something about the rain but it took too long and the rain stopped and all of the sudden it didn’t seem terribly relevant anymore. I was going to write a lot of things. I’ve got the scribbles in notebooks and snippets in note apps on my phone and iPad to prove it. Reading them now they look surreal, without context. Some draw forth more recognition; a sense of the time and the place and the feeling. But for the most part it’s sentences and phrases unanchored by meaning or memory. Some are tasting notes for wines I’ll never drink again.
There’s one notebook with a bunch of diary entries. I used to write in it while propping up a bar where a girl I had a crush on pulled pints. I would drink and write and nod and smile as she drew me a fresh beer and then poured a glass of whisky on the side. The beer was hit or miss. The lines weren’t terribly clean. If the bar got too busy I’d put the pen and notebook away for fear a pint might slop all over my unreadable script.
Once I sat in a pizza place writing in that same notebook and a pretty waitress complimented me on my handwriting. I think that might have been the only time anyone had done such a thing. I drank Peroni Gran Riserva and ate a calzone on my lonesome, and someone pretty liked my writing, or its aesthetic at least. That waitress lives in South London now, with some friends of mine. She’s not a waitress anymore.
In Autumn 2007, before it got cold, I sat with my laptop in the afternoon sun in the ruins of the cathedral and rewrote a chapter of my novel. From time-to-time I’d pop my head up for a breather catch the odd look from a bemused tourist. I disappeared into the words that afternoon.
Nine or so months before that, I sat on a couch at Naughton, typing on the same laptop, and wrote the last page of the first draft of that book. It was New Year’s Eve, and about an hour or so before the party was due to start. I opened my last bottle of 1985 Dom Perignon to celebrate. It tasted wonderful.
This morning I dragged the big purple binder that holds the draft and notes for my novel into the office. I grabbed a few notebooks and started flipping through the ageing pages. Far away from my desk, final touches are being applied to what will be my first ever published book. It should (knock on wood) go to press sometime next week. There’s nothing else for me to do with it.
And so I brush off memories and pages, excavate old writing, looking for what to write next, and beginning to feel both excited and terrified by pages that need filled with words.