Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Loneliness of the Low-Impact Writer

Middle of August, I'm going to Glasgow. Never been to Glasgow before, but that's not important. What's important is that I'm travelling alone.

Haven't gone on holiday alone since 2004. Scarborough. In the off-season. That was an exercise in boredom tolerance, but at least I got some poems out of it. And I got to come back to see M, my then-future, and soon-to-be ex, wife.

This time, I go alone, and I come back to my old room back in my parents' house. While I'm there I'll be spending time in the company of some good friends, and I'm sure there's a hell of a lot more to do in Glasgow, but...five years. Part of me is worried about how I'll handle it, and this is an easy trip. A couple of days staying on a friend's couch and exploring the city with them. What happens when I'm having to deal with being properly on my own, rushing through dinner in strange cities and coming back to an empty hotel room?

Get back to basics, I suppose. Hand luggage only. Don't draw attention. Short trips: do what you came for and get out. Keep yourself to yourself, don't strike up conversations with strangers and for god's sake don't introduce yourself to women. You're a 32-year-old lower-tier poet who works in a bookshop, not James Bond.

And take a notepad. Write. You never write anything of lasting worth while travelling, but the exercise, stretching your mind to describe something outside of the usual comfort zone, observing and reporting, keeps the muscles limber for when you do have to write something important.

Keep quiet. Keep yourself off the radar. No-one cares who you are. No-one cares where you came from. No-one cares why you're here. They have stuff to be doing. So do you.


That's how you deal with it.

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