This desk is where thoughts begin. It’s an old, heavy thing in my mum’s house, surrounded by the clutter of all my yesterdays: piles of VHS cassettes and PC Gamer demo discs, Sonic the Hedgehog and X Files posters on the walls. The desk is on rollers, but it hasn’t moved for over a decade. I suspect it cannot move any more because of all the detritus.
The desk is a challenging place to write because of all that clutter. Perhaps ‘clutter’ isn’t the right word: it’s emotional baggage. My mum has a tendency to hoard things. You can tunnel through the junk in any direction and find something from my childhood. It’s the antipode of my desk at home, which is a deliberately blank slate for projecting my thoughts. Here, I must feel the urge to write through the memories. The words must be bursting out of my brain. This is the place where of my half of Escape to Na Pali was planned – and of course, the place where I played Unreal back in 1998.
Part of me can’t wait to see the back of 2014, but it’s easy to confuse getting rid with forgetting it entirely. 2014 was a year of self-improvement for me: a new job meant I had to learn how to Get Things Done and drastically improve my presentation skills. I travelled to Canada in the summer and turned ‘internet friends’ into real ones. (If I learned anything this year, it’s that my Facebook and Twitter friends are genuine friends, and I truly value those friendships.) I published an honest-to-God printed book. Who would want to take that back?
In spite of it all, I don’t want to kick 2014 into the sun. Instead, I want to kick 2015 up the ass, to take all of those feelings and experiences – good and bad – and learn from them next year. Writing is born of emotion and experience: my short story Supercollider was about the feeling of isolation on a London Underground train one weekend, while Escape to Na Pali is a deep dive into childhood examined through the eyes of an adult. If you didn’t have the odd sad feeling or bad experience, what the hell would you write about? How would you stoke that fire inside?
Today I am sitting at the desk again, writing, thinking, because this is the place where thoughts begin.