I have spent well over half of the last 30 years living on the road, all over the world. The two major constants in this time have been music and sleep deprivation.
I spend several days at a time without enough sleep. At first, normal activities become annoying. When you are too tired to eat, you really need some sleep. A few days later, things become strange. Loud noises become louder and more startling, familiar sounds become unfamiliar, and life reinvents itself as a surrealist dream. I always think it's what living in a Brian Eno album would be like. A couple of days later, still low on sleep, I forget what it was like to be rested, and that's when things get interesting.
I have been out and about in America for the last couple of weeks, shamelessly flogging my new book, Occupants. The routine runs like this: I arrive at a bookstore in the early evening. A little while later, people show up and sit or stand where they can. Someone at the bookstore introduces me and I go out in front of the people and talk to them about the book, travel and whatever else comes to mind. I do this for 35 to 45 minutes. After that, I hang out with everyone. I sign their books, albums or arms, take photos with them, listen to their stories and whatever else until they all leave. Then I leave.
The whole thing from the first word into the microphone to the last handshake is about three hours, nonstop. I get into a taxi and go back to a hotel room. The people I met that night stay in my mind and I think about them for quite a while after the event is over. It's a hell of a thing to go from all that to a small room. I like these people. They are incredibly friendly and thoughtful; they keep me extremely motivated.
It is not easy to meet and engage with that many people on a regular basis, and it takes a toll. My mind gets crowded; sometimes my own thoughts become harder to locate. As soon as I can wind down enough, I try to sleep for a few hours, and then it's off to the airport and on to the next city.