I finished a book, took some unpaid leave from my job, and am now living with I. in the Middle East, writing a novel. I'd been planning and researching bits of one during the final stages of the Loathed Long-Overdue Academic Book, but, after I got here, realised that I in fact wanted to write an entirely different novel which started bursting out of my brain, if not fully-formed, then at least with all its fingers and toes and the beginnings of an attitude.
So here, I am, living in a skyscraper with a view of Millionaire Yachts, shisha cafes and an artificial island shaped like a palm tree, avoiding expat women groups (which are full of beaky-faced xenophobes discussing their maids), taking Arabic lessons, but mostly writing. It's like being an Alice in a very peculiar Wonderland built by imported slave labour, where the native population is massively outnumbered by foreigners, where cohabiting and having sex with I. is illegal, where the malls sell skimpy women's clothing which is not allowed to be worn in public, and we buy our wine surreptitiously in a semi-legal shop with no name or address. I. spends his time trying to persuade Sheikhs to sign things before they go off falcon-hunting in the desert.
The future is a complete mystery, but that's the present, at any rate.