I want to give you an example of something. On Wednesday, I was nattering with this guy in a pub in London. He mentioned a writing job he used to have that he had particularly enjoyed. The front of my head is fully in the conversation and enjoying the talk when the back of my head starts thinking.
I couldn’t do what he had done – for one thing, it’s his idea and for another it’s quite a while ago, the gig is gone – but there are elements that really particularly appealed to me. Take this element, change that, bring this, try the other, soon the back of my head is joining the front and I’m enthusing at him about what we could do now.
That’s Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, I knew exactly – I mean, exactly – every inch of the new idea and what to do plus who exactly – I mean, exactly – to pitch it to. And had pitched it. I can’t know if it will happen and I imagine it’s a year away if it does, but 25 hours after the idea, I’ve got a meeting.
This is how I like to work. Think of something and do it. I can’t tell you how satisfying I’ve found the last year: I’ve produced five events in 2014 and while that isn’t many, it is 100% more than I have ever produced before. To think of something and get it done, to eventually be sitting in the audience watching people you’ve chosen be everything you wanted them to be, it makes me giddy.
I like being giddy. I like being busy. I like rushing, I hate waiting around. It’s just that I feel I’ve wasted so much time and have done so little, I need to catch up and get on. If I’m not shaking with giddy exhaustion by the end of the day, I start shaking that I’ve burnt those hours away for nothing.
That does tend to be the only time I think of today. Usually my head is in next week or next year. I’ve had a stone in my stomach for the last month because I couldn’t get a guest speaker for an event I am especially keen to do well. My head’s been in the day of that event and in the days since I got the gig. Worrying about what I’ll do and worrying about what I could’ve done better or sooner or quicker. Not an awful lot of my head in the day today.
I’ve got the speaker now. She’s a mensch for doing it, I’m a bit of a mensch for asking her, but let’s not menschion that. Let’s just leap to how, now that I have got that sorted out, my giddy mind is looking forward to how that event will go. And my relaxed mind is half looking forward, half very nervous about an event next week where I’m performing myself. (I’m reading from my entry in a book of short stories. I love the story, I deeply loved how the book required me to meet various people before writing, I love how those people reacted to the story, I hate how sick with nerves I am before the launch.)
I have this fear that I’ve wasted so much time yet here I am arguably wasting every day. Always working on the next thing.
I went to a poetry event earlier this week, an evening about Next Generation Poets. Originally I was going on my own, just nipping in to see it, and it was a treat to then find that a friend was going and we could meet up beforehand. I don’t want to presume she had as good a time as I did, but I had a great time and was walking in to that show with her feeling very good and relaxed.
And by total chance, found myself seated precisely in the middle of seven friends I like and whose work I rate immensely.
It was terrible.
There they all were, great and talented people, every last bloody one of them better dressed than me.
None of them were performing, none of us were doing anything, we were just this tiny segment of the audience that happened to be sitting together. My body was in my seat and for once my head was in the room, in the time too. At that point I still had the stomach stone but it lightened. I forgot how far behind I had been feeling I was with everything.
I was just acutely, deeply and actually happily aware of the here and the now. Maybe I’m only reaching for the Ferris Bueller line “Life moves pretty fast… if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
But in the here and the now, the there and then, there was a buzz that wrapped around my shoulders and it came from these talented people.
Maybe even from me.