‘A foot is a foot, a mile is a mile, as smile is smile is a frown turned upside down’, he wrote in his notebook, without knowing why.
He then reasoned that to write without too much aforethought was liberating, and a lack of ‘sense’ didn’t matter because there is far too much sense written in the world, by which he meant words that make sense, even if the reader does not agree with the sentiment.
He had the notion to write a book of nonsense, but who would want to read that? He thought about all the manuscripts in brown envelopes in cupboards and draws filled with words he had typed and concluded that it made little sense to keep them for all they did was mock his efforts to become a novelist, without saying a word (for words cannot speak in that sense).
Yet the words made a mockery of his desires, anyway. Those were old desires which, when alive, could be mocked. But in death, they exist only as a memory.
He drank more tea, rolled a cigarette, looked out the window at all the windows opposite and wondered what people were doing behind them. Perhaps they were watching TV. They may be arguing, making love, reading the Sunday paper, cooking, sleeping (even though it was 2.30 in the afternoon).
What did other people do with their time? The possibilities he had thought of were, he reckoned, the most common, therefore the most likely.
He stared at the net curtains of the top window nearest the break in the row of houses. He imagined a teenager sat at his computer, clicking between the pages of his first novel (1st draft) and the internet...battling the distraction, and losing, because the novel was proving too difficult.
He was stuck, and unsure of the validity of his central character, a young writer living in Camden, who struggles to write because he cannot concentrate in a world of distractions.
He gets up from his desk, walks into the bathroom, urinates, looks in the mirror, and tells himself that the fictional character must be different from him in several important ways, otherwise the novel will be boring because he has done little in his nineteen years. Then again, he tells himself, it is not so much about the character and what happens, or has happened, to him, but the style in which he describes everything. His style will be fresh, innovative, daring and different to that of run-of-the-mill (albeit successful) novelists.
He goes back to the desk but does not sit down. Instead, he turns, goes into the kitchen and makes himself a cheese sandwich with spring onion and mayonnaise, telling himself that having eaten it he will knuckle down and write.
He walks to the window and looks down. Across the road he can just about make out the man in his room, the man he often sees sitting at his desk, staring at a computer, which is invisible because it backs against the wall, but he has seen the man’s face illuminated by it at night when he only has a dim lamp on in his room.
He can see the man in his sub-basement room because he has blinds at his window, and often leaves them open at night.
He wonders what the man is looking at on the internet. Perhaps he is also a writer. It would be strange, he thought, not only to be living opposite another writer, but to be able to watch him at work. The chances were slim. He was probably just surfing the ‘net.
The man is not writing a novel, of course (what a foolish enterprise!). He is writing his blog. He prefers the immediacy of it to the arduous task of making up characters and having them do things for thousands of words only to be filed away and forgotten about.
It is not the kind of blog where he talks about his life, though. No, he had no intention of doing that. He preferred to give the world images, or review music and film, or impart his wisdom on various other subjects.
He was quite aware, however, that he was not particularly wise, and only ever talked of his wisdom with a sense of irony, especially to himself, because he thought he knew himself quite well, and was modest about his talents.
Then again, who does really know themselves or what they are truly capable of? Is everything not relative? He was wise compared to Jack but not as smart as Jill, and so on. Yes, that was the case.
This particular afternoon he had been stuck for ideas about what to put on his blog. He had looked at various books and magazines and thought about discussing Art Pepper but was not happy with any of those. So he began writing about himself in the third person and found it liberating in the same way that writing nonsense in his notebook had been.
He wrote about a man writing nonsense in his notebook then wondering about the validity of nonsense before contemplating all the manuscripts of novels he had written. And so he went on writing about what people across the road might be doing, imagining one of them to be a writer struggling with his first novel.
Finally he returned to the man imagining all this and described the liberating feeling of writing in the third person, because he was that man, a man trapped in a loop of describing himself as another man who acknowledged that he was the subject before going on to describe the situation again.
He was a man writing himself into a cycle which had no end. He had lost himself whilst being outside of himself, and if you should happen to walk down that road in Camden Town I am sure you would see him still sitting there at his computer, writing about the man writing about himself as another person.