Having recently severed the umbillical cord that connected me and my latest novel, I have stepped out into the real world, dazed and wobbly. Suddenly, I am able to complete domestic chores that have been neglected for months, attack my hopelessly messy accounts, have days without wine and stop biting my cuticles. Yet, absurdly, I feel empty. IÂ miss myÂ fictional world and I struggle to adapt to the real one.
This how Franz Kafka described living inÂ the twoÂ incompatible worlds:
The difficulty in completing even the shortest story is not in the fact that you feel that the work needs a kind of fire which you have not been able to provide until that point, but the difficulty is in the fact that even the simplest story requires a level of confidence, a sense of being completely inside yourself, which makes it impossible to step out into the ordinary everyday life, where an entirely different kind of confidence is required and another kind of incentive. Up until the moment when the story has reached its natural conclusion and you could depart unnoticed, you instead get agitated, you become filled with a strange kind of unease, and you become forced to complete your work from the outside, with hands that must not only do the work, but must also keep your very self together.
As for me personally, adding to the lack of footing, is the struggle of existing in two separate and mutuallyÂ exclusive geographical worlds. I will be packing soon, and as with the separation from my manuscript, my separation from my family here in New Zealand will be painful.
Partir c’est mourir un peu – To part is to die a little.