Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dating Myself in London - Inspiration & Nostalgia

Julia Cameron - the woman behind The Artist's Way - writes about the importance of Artist's Dates. And sometimes we need Artist's Days. Days when we take ourselves out to gain new inspiration and energy. Yesterday I took myself to London.

I started off at the British Library. Little did I know that it was like boarding an aeroplane. You had to check that your bag was the right size, and to go inside any of the reading rooms you needed a pass. The book I wanted to read (a John Cage one) was in Yorkshire which didn't make any sense. A member of staff said "it says DSC in the entry" as if an idiot would know that DSC meant Yorkshire. I didn't let myself get put off though.

Instead I had a look at one of the exhibitions and saw original manuscripts/notebooks from authors like Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde. I also put on headphones and listened to Help! by the Beatles while looking at the original piece of paper that John Lennon wrote down the lyrics on ... After all entering a library is like boarding an aeroplane: you are travelling to another place.

The British Library cafe was too full of laptops, books and conversations so I moved to a cafe across the road and spent two hours with myself, my notebook and a gigantic mug of green tea. I found my words flowing in all sorts of directions without forcing myself to writing anything good.

To feed my tummy I had an over-priced sandwich. But my mind was hungry for something else, so I decided to treat myself to Camden. (And am very proud that I found my way there without looking at the map in my bag.) Camden still feels magic to me. Camden changed my life when I was eighteen. And again when I was nineteen. It would take a whole novel to explain why, but basically it was a shock for a small town girl. Like moving from grey to neon. Like moving from safe to dangerous. Like moving from innocence to experience.

Note the punk with the placard in the middle to the right. I bet he's the same guy who stood there when I first came up from the tube all those years ago ... (The next tube could take you to another world was the slogan on the walls then.)

After only five minutes in Camden I was exploding with memories mixed with new impressions and I just had to sit down and write again. At a crossroads someone asked "Where's the rainbow?" because at that very moment it started to rain at the same time as the sun was shining ... I didn't find any rainwbows but I found Spiral (a cafe by the canal) and that was colourful enough with hippies in green trousers and orange tops. I had Spirulina. Not something I would've done ten years ago ... It wouldn't have been "punk" enough ...

Nostalgia hit me really bad so I just had to carry on to Angel ... To Islington Green where me and a friend once sat in October, drinking before going to legendary goth club Slimelight ... This was ten years ago and I couldn't help thinking of the line from the above mentioned Help!: When I was younger, so much younger than today ...

And this is what my novel is about. Someone with a glamorous name who is not glamorous. (REPLACING ANGEL is no longer the title, but Angel is still very much the subject or perhaps the object of my novel.)

This is the real reason I went to London: I was invited to perform at Beat - a diverse but dynamic monthly poetry event at Charlie Wright's Bar hosted by ...

Andreas Grant. Who is a fellow Swede. (Some of the best Swedes have left their native country to grow elsewhere)

So ... This is one of the longest blog post I've ever written. I feel inspired and overtired, but I want to see myself again. After another couple of dates I might even fall in love ...

And if I get bored with myself I have filled half a notebook with thoughts notes hopes dreams fragments of poems and other ideas. It's funny how I had the intention of gaining new inspiration, but got this craving for nostalgia. Sometimes you have to travel to the future to find your past (path.) Oh dear ... I must be in love to write this rubbish. Lust for life la la la ... Bedtime or beertime? "Me!" my pillow calls, like London was calling yesterday ...


  1. Great blog, Louise. Very interesting. I agree that it's strange how you often have to go back to go forward, and also that you never quite know where your path will lead or where it will even start! This is why I often thing of instances in my life as spirals - you cycle back on yourself but either you or the place or people are changed (or both) so it's not quite a circle!

  2. Hi Louise- this is so inspiring! I love Camden too- and I can imagine how it inspired you ten years ago. Can't wait to read about Angel. And your photographs tell their own stories. Really great to finally get a chance to read your blog. :) Your american friend from NZ.

  3. Laura: I like the spiral image! :)

    Xandra: great to hear from you! hope all is well x

  4. In Spiral is a spot I also stumbled into during a visit to Camden a few years back. Met a couple of fellows there who I am still in touch with. It's a great spot!