... must be one of the weariest tropes in our culture. I have never quite believed it myself, until Sunday night that is. Or should I say Monday morning? A friend had reminded me, serendipitously, of the due date for a certain grant application to be in. I was about to go back driving, imminently (I started that Blue Monday) and was feeling a sort of mild desperation about my prospects: what an earth could I contrive that might save me from the phantasmagoria? I had no new book to write, nothing I could legitimately ask for money to do.
During the night, while I slept, a name came to me. It loomed in my dreaming consciousness, crossing from vision to vision with enigmatic insistence. No particular narrative was associated with this name, nor did I see the person it belongs to. What there was, came down to this: Mr Oort, Master of Illusion.
Well, I love to dream and I particularly like dreaming enigmas. They are gifts that can entertain my usually scattered and fractious thoughts for a long time. When I woke, with this title and phrase intact in my mind, I began to wonder who he was and what it meant? Within a very short time, perhaps an hour or two, answers began to flow through my synapses - a first name, Jakob, a history, a mystery, a calling, a disappearance, a quest. It was an extraordinary feeling, to see, as it were without agency, this plot, or plat, constitute itself before me. The projection seemed not to require anything of me except that I witness it.
And the writing down, of course. The application I'm going to make insists that you produce a sample of the proposed work, an idiotic requirement I feel - as if with a brick you could show the house you are to build - but there we are. With equal parts anxiety and wonder, I started tapping out the first ten pages of my tale. There they are, floating like a tracery of dark threads on the blue pool of my screen. They may not earn me the grant, but I no longer care about that. There will be a way.