Had an absolutely great night on Monday. Went to see Dan Holloway’s New Libertines show in Manchester. Probably the best venue I’ve ever seen for spoken word stuff (it was at the 3 Minute Theatre in Affleck’s Palace) and a superb line up. I was expecting it to be good, but the atmosphere was just terrific.
Anyway, I came away a bit inspired. I think I needed it. Hinterland has been stalled for a while and I’ve been kind of avoiding it. I still liked the first four chapters (albeit I knew the very end of chapter four needed some revising), but after that it was just drifting. It was becoming something very different from what I wanted to write. Galvanised a bit by some of the great performances on Monday night, and some nice comments from people on what I’d read out, I came to a conclusion: I had to cut. So chapters five to eight are gone. Amputated. Consigned to the bin. I sat in my hotel room in Manchester in the early hours of Tuesday morning, a bit the worse for wear after too much red wine, and I wrote a new chapter five. Suddenly it’s come back to life on me. Thank God. Below is the first couple of paragraphs, the bits that came to me as I was walking back across the city and making my way up to my room in the lift:
‘You have to be willing to help yourself.’
Well, that was the problem then. I have never cared about anything less than those sessions I had to go to. The ones I’m still going to. Well, maybe not now.
‘Sufferers of traumatic stress often exhibit symptoms of denial at first.’
I didn’t get it. I wasn’t in denial. There were no muddy waters here, no conflicts of emotional response. It felt like a game, a con. Just switch your perspective and you’ll feel well. The guilt can be coped with. Except I didn’t feel guilty. I hit a stranger over the head with enough force to damage his motor functions. Fuck him: he had my daughter. I wasn’t struggling with any ethical complexities here. Does that make me a bad person? Seriously, who cares? That’s the problem right there. As soon as you make morality contextual, you’re pretty much screwed from there on in. For me, there was no moral issue. There was something that needed dealing with and I dealt with it and we walked away onto the next thing. That’s what being a parent is. That’s what being an adult is.”
That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense outside the context of the story, but what the hell, I’m just happy it’s sparked back into life.
Seriously though, if you ever get the chance, go and see a New Libertines show. Dan is a great guy as well as a great writer. And he has a knack of drawing together some of the best new and alternative writers around. Hopefully he’ll do something else up North soon, but failing that I’ll be looking out for events in Oxford and London and trying to align them to anything else I’ve got going on that means I could get there…