Well, the smooth, efficient, well-oiled machine that is The Las Vegas Postcards kind of ground to a halt there for a while. A LOOOONG while. The longest yet… And I was doing so well! I had sent out over a hundred unique, deeply neurotic, wildly over-thought postcards! And then (as you may have noticed, especially if you are still waiting for your card), I stopped writing cards, or updating… I’ve just this week started again, but I feel I should explain what happened (and is happening).
SO, WHAT HAPPENED?
I’m tempted to blame it on Trump, as the timings certainly coincide. And he HAS taken over my brain, and destroyed my sleep. I used to obsessively read books; now I wake up at 4am and immediately go on Twitter to see what Trump’s just done. (I suspect the global production of literary fiction has been halved by this presidency.) He is more interesting than fiction. Hell, he is more interesting than LIFE ITSELF. I’d rather read Trump tweets than eat. (At least I’m not alone in my obsession; I sent this tweet a while back; it was retweeted twenty three thousand times, liked thirty thousand times, and viewed well over three million times. Which makes it my most-read piece of fiction, apart from the ending to Minecraft. What a deeply peculiar world.)
But, OK, OK, the real reason is not Trump.
THE REAL REASON
At the start of this year, I finally left my old flat in Berlin; and, indeed, left Germany. I put 30% of what I own on the pavement, outside the flat, for people to take away; put 60% of what I own into storage; and carried the other 10% in suitcases to Limerick City, in Ireland.
And the next few months just evaporated. I was writer in residence at Limerick University, which involved working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. (A low bar to clear, I’ll admit.) I didn’t HAVE to work that hard, but the work was so absorbing I couldn’t switch off. (I was helping the creative writing students at UL improve their work, giving them editorial feedback, etc. They were terrific, totally committed. Watch out in the future for writers like Donal Minihane and Meghan Helms and… oh, loads of them.) Also, I was doing what is usually a year’s work in one semester, which cranked up the intensity a smidgin. Also I was doing a lot of family stuff (as my parents live nearby), with my wife, brother, parents, daughter, old friends, etc... (Here's a thing I wrote in the Irish Times about Limerick, and why it's become so interesting lately.)
And I was doing a year’s work in one semester because, on July 12th, I had to fly to Singapore to take up my post as writer in residence at Nanyang Technological University, where I’m typing this, and where I will remain till early February 2018. It's ranked the number one university in Asia, and number 11 in the world. (So, ahead of Princeton, Yale, et al.) I will no doubt drag it down a few notches over the next six months, but that's where it's at right now.
This is where I’m working. It’s great…
Plus, on top of the university work this year, I’ve also been doing my long-delayed final edits for Connect (the novel, formerly known as Infinite Ammo, that I went to Las Vegas to research). There have been two rounds of edits, and they have deepened the book enormously. Very happy with it. Publication date is now set for late February.
Don’t worry, I still wake up sweating with guilt about the postcards I haven’t done yet. Except now I wake up in Singapore.
THE GUILTY SECRET IN THE SUITCASE
So, things are looking up. The remaining blank postcards and stamps, which I have dragged around the world for the past year, are now out of my suitcase, and on the living room table in my flat in Nanyang Valley. The guilt level involved in SEEING THEM EVERY MORNING AS I EAT BREAKFAST has now risen to the point where I have begun, once more, to write them, just to get them off the fucking table. It was much easier to ignore them when they were in my suitcase, at the back of a wardrobe, in Limerick; although I did occasionally feel like a Mafia hitman on the run with a dismembered casino owner in my luggage. (“Hey, what’s in the suitcase, Jules?” “NOTHING!”)
WHERE ARE WE AT?
I’m still working on the $25 postcards (coffee & whisky stains). So, if you haven’t received your $25 postcard yet, and you’ve moved house in the last year, just change your address here on Kickstarter, and I’ll send it out to the new address when it’s done. If you haven’t changed address, you’re fine.
Lipstick postcard people will get a survey asking for their addresses when I’ve finished the coffee & whiskey stain cards.
Oh, after a lot of research, I pretty much gave up on whisky stains, as they just aren’t impressive unless you practically dissolve the card in the stuff. (Also, I don’t really drink.) I like my coffee pretty strong, though, so the coffee stains look great.
OK, talk soon, I won’t even apologise for the last delay, it’s so bad it’s inexcusable. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I should be on a locked ward. (Then maybe I’d get them finished.)
God DAMN it, I know I promised you a second update today, with all the news from the past (hectic) six months of my life, plus details of where I am at with the postcards; however, I have been dragged into the water by an octopus; his, or possibly her, powerful tentacles have my legs and torso in an unbreakable embrace, and as I type this, holding my laptop above my head, out of the raging waters, I fear that I will soon be submerged, which, as you know, will cause possibly terminal damage to my electronic devices; and so I must press send on this Emergency Holding Update (hoping the wifi signal from our little cabin has sufficient strength to receive it, and retransmit it to the scattered computers of the world), before I hurl my laptop to my weeping wife, at the shore's edge; here we go; pray for my soul...
Jesus Christ, my prevarication has metastasised. I’m not just prevaricating about the postcards, I’m now prevaricating about my updates on the progress of the postcards. GOD DAMN IT. OK, this is a very short update to say that there will be a slightly longer and more detailed update very, very soon. (Also, Happy Christmas! And Hanukkah! And Kwanzaa! And Festivus! And pagan midwinter sex ritual! And whatever you’re having yourself!)
Basically my life has gone nuts. Last month was pure European pinball, I never really unpacked my little wheelie suitcase. (It went like this: Germany/England/Germany/Italy/Germany/Ireland/Germany/HIGHSCORE!) And, I have just discovered, I have to move country in January. I’ve given notice on my flat in Berlin, and it is full of cardboard boxes. One of the cardboard boxes contains, at all times, a cat. I feel like Erwin Schrödinger trying to move house.
Anyway, it looks like Solana and I will be living in Limerick City for a while, from the end of January, if you live within visiting distance, get in touch. (Long story, in next update…)
Life is fine, it is all good, but oh boy it is hectic right now.
Proper update coming.
Also some postcards.
And! Big thanks to the delightful man who works at the BBC for his lovely letter (handwritten! by post!) saying how much he’s enjoyed my updates, and their insights into what it’s like to be a wildly neurotic writer in the early 21st century, and that I shouldn't worry, it has been far more interesting than just getting the card straight away.
I am enjoying an intoxicating cocktail of shame (he wrote me a letter by hand, but I haven’t even written him a postcard!) and pride. (He likes my writing, so the weird way I live is justified!) I would name him here, but I can’t even find his letter in the chaos of the flat as we pack. (I’ve spent the last 20 minutes looking for it, and all I found was the cat, twice.)
As ever, if you are one of the hundred-odd people who hasn’t received a card yet and you are NOT enjoying this wildly neurotic ride, and your patience has snapped, I totally get it. Message me here, or just email me directly (it’s juliangough, and it’s at gmail dot com), and I’ll do your card in the next batch.
If any Whiskey and Coffee Stain people still waiting for cards are about to move house, it’s OK, they can change their address here on the Kickstarter site.
Lipstick and Bullethole people haven’t received surveys asking for addresses yet, so don’t worry, you didn’t miss them. I'll tell you in an update as soon as they go out.
I was feeling super guilty about the (very expensive) Blood postcard, so I’ve bumped that one up the queue and done it early. Looks great. Real blood. Mine. Owch. (More details in the next update.)
Ugh, no, don’t edit this and polish it, just send it, Julian, stop overthinking. Go write some postcards.
OK. Talk soon…
And HAPPPPPPYYYYY HOLIDAYS!!!!!