Hello, you lovely, lovely bastard.
I haven’t blogged for a while. You may have noticed.
This is because – aside from fixing up a partially flood-damaged house in Bellac – I’ve been moving from one thing to another. In my head. And I think I was waiting for the next thing to properly ferment before I spoke of the last thing turning slightly sour and passing into the past. I wanted to make things a little more positive before I spoke of something which I was feeling – despite myself – was a tad negative. Are you with me?
Last time we spoke I was somewhere in Italy, working on some farm or other and feeling a little disappointed with the WWOOFing experience as a whole. In retrospect, I realise that my expectations were all wrong and that I should have been more prepared for periods in which, essentially, there was no fun. I also realise that WWOOFing was simply not for me at this point in my life. There were some glorious moments that I will never forget and it was a wonderful experience that I don’t regret for a second, but after two months, I confess that I was feeling discouraged, under-appreciated and increasingly lonely and broke.
At which point a Skype conversation with Cyrus and Ruby threw up the opportunity of paid work in France. It wasn’t definite as yet, but Cyrus and Ruby wanted to know why I didn’t just come back to France anyway? Why would I continue to do something that wasn’t making me happy? I explained that I had commitments – another two farms in another four weeks. It was as simple as that. I had given my word.
When I woke up the next morning, the decision had somehow been made. I explained to my hosts in Lazio that I had paid work opportunities in France that I could not afford to pass up. My hosts were variously understanding and wholly indifferent. I also wrote emails to my hosts-to-be and, with sincere sadness and heartfelt apologies, I took back my word. Then my out-of-date Italian ID card got me on an overnight bus back to France and I was lost again. I mean free. I was free again. Freeeeeee.
But also feeling a little lost, I can’t deny it. I had tried another thing – and it had come to nothing. It was a thing for which I had had high hopes too: in my head the WWOOFing adventure would take me around Italy for a year, then on to South America, with best-selling travel-adventure books popping out of me like magic corn. I even spent a weekend learning how to make myself make it happen with Jamie Catto and a roomful of other stifled creatives.
One of things you do in Jamie’s ‘What About You?‘ workshop is write up an outrageously flattering interview with yourself, from the future, but from a fantastic and wholly fulfilling future in which your creative project has come to delirious fruition. I had myself saving children in Paraguay and opening orphanages whilst my books were made into films and I eventually became the only person to be awarded Nobel Prizes for both Peace and Literature. I think I won an Oscar too. I really got into it. So when it didn’t work out that way, when WWOOFing didn’t lead directly to commercial and critical acclaim on a genuinely unprecedented level, a part of me was naturally inclined to feel a little down about it.
And I’ve been working through that.
Another of the things that stayed with me from the Jamie Catto weekend – which I would wholeheartedly recommend if you think you need help connecting with life again, or would just like to pass a couple of days with a highly eloquent and charismatic person playing games and thinking about important things – was the idea of changing one’s instinctive reaction to one’s fuck-ups. Essentially forcing oneself to laugh where one would more commonly cringe and recoil and call oneself a c-word. (Cunt.) This stuck with me because I do that a lot, or have tended to in the past.
I can be having a lovely day, strolling through a glade maybe, taking the sun and feeling every bit the deliciously unique miracle I most certainly am, when my mind will wander to some past humiliation, making me cry out and cringe simultaneously, then I will curse myself and feel awash with negative emotions. This is something I have managed to partially modify. It’s not as bad as it used to be. Laughing at my gaucheness and inappropriacy is becoming, with practice, a natural response. I’m giving myself a break. You know why? Because I’m worth it.
WWOOFing wasn’t a fuck-up of the cringe-and-cry-out kind by any stretch of the imagination. It just wasn’t for me. And it’s taken me longer than I would have preferred to finally feel perfectly fine with that.
The fact is, WWOOFing was the thing that I most wanted to do in the world, and I did it. The fact that it didn’t work out how I’d hoped is largely irrelevant, and the fact that I tried it is something to celebrate. So I renounce any negative feelings I have about my failure to make something more of WWOOFing. I renounce the fuck out of them. Then I give them a playful goose and suggest that they do something more constructive with their time.
So, the new thing. The thing that I now want to do more than anything else in the world. It came when I was lying on the floor, stretching my back.
I have decided to go and live in Thailand.
But first, apple-picking.
Apple-picking will last for a maximum of three weeks. I don’t know much else about it at this point. It begins on Thursday. Tomorrow, in fact. I’ll be staying with friends, one of whom will be picking with me. I am looking forward to it.
Soon after that I will return to England, nurse my mum through a major operation, publish a new novel and learn how to drive, whilst simultaneously earning lots of money writing about things that interest me and paying off my debts into the bargain. All before April 2014.
That’s the plan.
But first, apples.