And, in fact, this is the tale that I would love to write: history is such a romantic place, with its jarveys and urchins and side-buttoned boots. If it would just stay still, I think, and settle down. If it would just stop sliding around in my head.
I am interested in levels of brain discourse. How articulate are the voices in your head? You know, there's a different voice for the phone, and a different voice if you're talking in bed. When you're starting off with a narrator, it's interesting to think, where is their voice coming from, what part of their brain?
There are little thoughts in your head that can grow until they eat your entire mind. Just tiny little thoughts--they are like a cancer, there is no telling what triggers the spread, or who will be struck, and why some get it and others are spared.
If you try to control it too much, the book is dead. You have to let it fall apart quite early on and let it start doing its own thing. And that takes nerve, not to panic that the book you were going to write is not the book you will have at the end of the day.
Story is about pulling the reader in and a plot is a more externalized mechanism of revelation. A plot is more antic, more performative, and less intimate. When you're telling a story you're telling it into someone's ear.
Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
I am a trembling mess from hip to knee. There is a terrible heat, a looseness in my innards that makes me want to dig my fists between my thighs. It is a confusing feeling - somewhere between diarrhoea and sex - this grief that is almost genital.
Sometimes I will spend two or three days not speaking to anyone outside of the immediate family when they come home, and then I find that I've been emailing like fury. Once you give in to that silence, it's quite nice.
And what amazes me as I hit the motorway is not the fact that everyone loses someone, but that everyone loves someone. It seems like such a massive waste of energy -- and we all do it, all the people beetling along between the white lines, merging, converging, overtaking. We each love someone, even though they will die. And we keep loving them, even when they are not there to love any more. And there is no logic or use to any of this, that I can see.
You write a book and you finish the book. That's your job done, right? You win the Booker and you have a whole new job. You have to be the thing, right? So instead of writing the story, you somehow are the story. And that I found that sort of terrible.
I've heard people, usually writers, say that no one wrote a great book after winning the Booker, but I honestly did not feel any big pressure. 'The Gathering' did hang over me in that it was darker than I thought at the time.
Here we go again. Always a few drinks, but sometimes even sober, we play the unhappiness game; endlessly round and round. Ding dong. Tighter and tighter. On and on. Push me pull you. Come here and i'll tell you how much i hate you. Hang on a minute while i leave you. All the while we know we are missing the point, whatever the point used to be.
There are so few people given us to love. I want to tell my daughters this, that each time you fall in love it is important, even at nineteen. Especially at nineteen. And if you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other. There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.