An older man with long hair tied into a bun at the back of his head lent forward as I sat at a small table signing books. I had just finished an hour’s talk at the Shambala Festival, in Kelmarsh, Northamptonshire. He crouched down to talk over the noise of the tent and its competing sounds. He offered me great wisdom.
Actually, greater wisdom than either he intended or I was capable of attaining on my own. Wisdom that almost fell from the skies, so to speak.
I try to show how wasteful was much of my effort… because otherwise you become a kind of finely honed piece of bull, as you go from crisis to self-realisation. You become saintly. And that don’t fit with me.
This was my third day at the festival and my third talk. The first talk in a crowded tent called the the Imaginarium was called ‘Poverty to Purpose’ and was my usual struggle story up from empty slum life through crime, homelessness and other wrongdoings, mistakes mixed in with rough sleeping and self abuse. This is the popular story that people love to hear. It tires me so I always add elaborations, deviations, general observations, and lacerations. I try to show as much as a can how wasteful was much of my effort, how confused and lost was I. Because otherwise you become a kind of finely honed piece of bull, as you go from crisis to self-realisation. You become saintly. And that don’t fit with me.
The second talk I did, with storyteller outfit 5×15 Bristol, was about my book ‘John Quixote’ which still languishes on the desks of perhaps ten publishers, and had done so since early Spring. I told about the pain, the real pain that comes with writing something, being told it contains genius, and then having the languishing. I even admitted that parts of the book might be crap. But I add in my defence that I have never ever read a book that was not part good, and part crap; even part genius and part crap. Of course there is also the part crap followed by part crap.
The Shambala audience, largely young and committed, were there to hear serious stuff but dressed like the lightest of light.
I passionately described, loudly my struggle through the book writing world, having never really written what I wanted to write, and John Quixote is definitely that book; or almost.
I did say when it comes out people will be able to register their disdain with the book by getting their money back, in the form of Poundland gift vouchers, having filled in a simple 32 page questionnaire, less a 43% handling fee.