This isn’t my bed. It’s a bed in Austin, Texas. I slept in it for about a week in 2008. I was visiting America for a wedding. My mother had just died. I had to take pills to fall asleep. I’d wake up to incoherent text messages and voicemails from my father in the UK, who had already started his plan of drinking himself to death. He died 18 months later.
I’d sit on a bench in the garden of this house in Austin that I’d hired with friends and drink strong coffee in the morning and try to pretend that I was coping and that the world didn’t just feel like it was clouded over with a painful fog. It was a strange time. I was with my best friends, which helped. I had fun. I needed to be on the other side of the world for a couple of weeks.
The bed felt beautiful. I took the photo one morning because I felt like it had saved my life. I didn’t know how it had saved my life and didn’t know how to talk about it at the time, so I took a photo for myself. I like how the photo is kind of hazy and slightly out of focus. The camera was sympathetic or maybe my hands were shaking. When I look at it now, things feel clearer. That whole time was a blur.
My bed at home is different to this. It’s side on to the window. I don’t write in bed. I’m lucky to have an office in my house and I now do all of my writing in there. I wrote chunks of my first novel in bed. It seemed to fit the mood of that book. The stuff I do now needs to be separate from the bed. I feel like I need a totally separate place to write. I’ll check emails in bed on my phone, but that’s about it. I don’t usually switch my laptop on in my bedroom.
I can read in bed. That’s different. I can let other people’s work into my bed, but my own stuff has to keep out. It feels a lot healthier that way.