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Douglas Coupland:’ I’m actually at my happiest when I’m writing on a plane’

No more clock-based passivity from the novelist, who disrupted a 20 -year routine with a decision to embrace the unpredictable

I used to be a disciplined morning columnist, but in the spring of 2010 I was seeing a router-making facility in Shanghais Pudong district and witnessed thousands of workers in robins egg blue jumpsuits building the gear are required to pole-vault Chinas technological connectedness ahead of all other countries in our new world order. This tableau stimulated in me a gentle realisation that countries around the world was changing even more quickly than Id thought it was, and that Id better shake concepts up creatively to keep pace with it.

I questioned myself a few questions: how can I steep myth with that same fractal feel of falling down a rabbit hole that everyone is know-how when were online? How can writing compete with Netflix? How could I squeeze spirit into as few terms as is practicable not just on a page but something people can speak from a vehicle at 50 miles per hour?

To this end I purposely upended what had been a 20 -year-old writing routine. No more AM clock-based passivity, softly awaiting terms that are able to or may not come depending on the fussiness of my muse. No more predictability; instead of sitting there feeling wistful for my pre-internet brain, I tried to figure out what my new mentality was becoming and how that affected my writing. So if “youre asking me” what is my usual writing daylight, I have no specific reaction, merely a series of tendencies which together characterize my new writing normal.

One: I do much of my writing on planes. Im actually at my happiest when Im writing on an aircraft, and Im writing these paroles on an aircraft right now, Lufthansa flight 1436 from Frankfurt to St Petersburg. Theres no Wi-Fi( sanctuary !) and Im having that not disagreeable hotshot of soon-to-end Schengen-era statelessness the kind of transnational fluidity so accurately touted by Monocle magazine a headspace where all the men wear slim-fit apparel and all the women in little black garments go back to the bureau from the Embassy function to do some late darknes C ++ coding.

Q: Would you like a glass of water with your vodka tonic ?
A: No. Thats why God invented ice cubes .

Two: I do much of my writing in hotel rooms, specially if theres a deadline. Actually, since I wrote the above paragraph Ive territory and am now in the St Petersburg W inn which has killer Wi-Fi and interior design alternatives perhaps reached( in the best possible feel) by an oligarchs mistress. Theres something about being in a inn area most columnists know this implicitly that free-spokens up ones contemplating. First you situate a scorched earth do-not-disturb on your email report( autoreply: Im dead and hence unable to reply to your email) and second, hide the mobile phone in the desk drawer and its almost as good as being on a plane. Nothing can achieve you. Youre safe.

Three: I write in places connected in definable ways to the forces of both globalisation and deglobalisation: Shanghai router-making facilities; Chilean classrooms taken over by asserting students, the chambers now converted into creators studios; the International House of Pancakes on the northern slope of Interstate 15 in Las Vegas. The more random and sudden the better.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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