Tour. The routines, the epiphanies, the minutiae, the humiliations and life affirmations, the gas-station sandwiches, the Hiltons, the Travelodges, the audiences – or lack thereof.
In the first of a new series where writers and artists tell us about their experiences on the road, Ross Raisin talks about his difficulty with chick-pea-based foodstuffs and subsequent penchant for escapism.
I would say that the main emotion I carry around on tour is guilt. Different guilts. The main one is that I get to stay in a hotel bed for a week and sleep for as long as I choose to. Not that I have no control at all over my life at home, but I was up at 5.30 this morning, to screaming, and it’s afternoon now and I’m covered in hummus and struggling to muster the energy to remove it from myself. And my last tour was a beach holiday in California, which doesn’t help.
The other guilt is that somebody else is paying for me to do it. I can never quite get my head round that, and often find myself counting the audience to calculate how much it has cost per head of them to send me there (as you can imagine, given that I do this during a performance, my events are fascinating).
I imagine that for people who are required to tour all the time, these things don’t apply, and that it’s probably a lot more fun for me, who does it once or twice a year, and usually with a touring partner – like Nadifa Mohamed, who is a great person to go on a beach holiday to California with, if you’re looking for one.
There’s something I think quite unique about being a writer touring a book or speaking at literary festivals, in that at base the whole concept of ‘performing’ a book is a little bit daft, and so you immediately place yourself outside of what your rational understanding of what you’re doing can muster as reasonable. Which is great, because it means that you move about at a slight remove from reality, from yourself even, and end up searching for the offbeat – and this is just how a writer should feel, wherever they are.