The Disruptions of (Not Necessarily Time) Travel

I’m very much a creature of habit, which it comes to writing. I get up around 5, 5:15, when it’s still dark out. At the moment, I’m working on something new, so I’ll pull out the notebook and write for a few hours until the kids get up.Early mornings

Or I *would*, but the little monsters are up already, greeting me at the door of my office (the kitchen counter) with wide smiles this morning, ready for breakfast and a lot of chat. You see, we’ve just gotten back from Ireland, which is approximately the other side of the planet, which means it’s prime time for playing at 5am.

POTATO WAFFLES, man's greatest invention!
POTATO WAFFLES, man’s greatest invention!

Before we start, I’m just going to state the following: I am not complaining. I’m very lucky to have two monsters who still, at the time of this writing, like me and enjoy spending time with me. I’m so lucky to get to go visit a set of in-laws who treat me like royalty in another country altogether, and I love going to Ireland, spending time in a non-desert climate and in a culture where they’re actually laid back. Also, potato waffles.

But (ahhh, there it is), when it comes to my writing schedule, it doesn’t make the trip quite intact. I suspect it’s lost in the luggage hold, held in some Aer Lingus manager’s office for the first few days, perhaps in quarantine. Or maybe it’s so lost it makes the trip across the Atlantic a few times, availing itself of the booze from the first class cabin, until it finally stumbles onto the tarmac at Shannon, blinking in the light of a grey day, clothes disheveled and face just that bit more stubbly.

I’ll eventually cram some writing time in by force, into some rare nooks. And I also have 9 hours of sitting on my backside on the flight over and back, which is one of the prime ingredients in a successful writing habit. It’s not *quite* the ideal environment, but we’ve got a couple of ideal traveling companions who’ve made the trip so many times it’s old hat to them by now, so I’ll usually get a disjointed hour, at least. So long as the siren call of Aer Lingus’s in-flight entertainment doesn’t call.IMG_9241

Looking down at the Ennis Bookshop
Looking down at the Ennis Bookshop

But coming back is the hardest part, in so many respects. It’s tough to be away from Ireland, anyway, where they’re talking books on Today FM and Clare FM as a matter of course, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. There’s no great green expanse of a field I can stand in, and, occasionally, pretend to be David Mitchell (I don’t do this often, I swear — I do imagine he spends most of his days overlooking the Atlantic, down in Cork, striking various authorly poses in the mist and gentle rain). There are many moments of regret when we consider that an artist’s income isn’t taxed (to a degree) in Ireland, though the tax on the $0.08 in royalties from the Fenway Fiction series is not exactly breaking our bank, at the moment.

And when we’re back and I creep back into my routine that first morning back, more easily, thanks to the 8 hour time difference and the fact that my body thinks 5am is actually 1pm, when I tiptoe down to the usual spot I find, as I’ve already mentioned, a couple of cherubs grinning at me, waiting to be fed. Like a native tribesman who one day comes upon a few men with chainsaws and other implements of clear-cutting, tearing down the forest, tree by tree.

The David Mitchell Field
The David Mitchell Field

So it’s usually a few mornings before the natural rhythm of sunlight and the Earth’s rotation lulls the kids back into their normal pattern, but let me tell you, it’s so unsettling when my normal routine is taken away, replaced by, this morning, anyway, a bevy of lights, the latest Texas album (The Conversation, which isn’t bad at all) blaring, and generally feeling like I’m trying to write in a  nightclub.





If you are looking for a destination, you could do a lot worse than the west coast of Ireland. County Clare is one of the most beautiful places on the planet Earth, and it gives you easy access to Counties Kerry and Cork, which are most likely number 2 and 3 on the list of beautiful places. Fly into Shannon or into Dublin and take the really nice new-ish N7 across the country for 2 hours or so and dig yourself in somewhere near Corofin or Lahinch and soak it all in.