“A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him.” – Edna St Vincent Millay.
It’s hard to not sound conceited writing a blog about’the day I got published’, but I thought it important to commemorate a day I thought only happened to other people. Well, at least other people who’ve written a book. Non writers have even less chance of getting published than writers; if such a thing is possible. Of course I now find myself in the group of people I once wished to stab in the forehead.
Publication day is the sort of day that validates all those annoying motivational Twitter status updates involving ‘following your dreams’, and ‘Stars can’t shine without darkness.’ The sort of updates that no one says to your face in fear of being strangled, and without which Twitter would be diminished to people declaring themselves as coffee addicts, uploading photos of cats and flogging vampire novels thinly disguised as porn. Or is it the other way around?
The crucial start to a life as a published author (have I mentioned this yet?) was to not spend it on drudgery like fetching milk from the corner shop in my pyjamas whilst resisting the urge to ask ‘D’you know who I am?’. The newsagent would have every right to nod and say ‘Yes, I know who you are, you’ve still got 3 months arrears for weekend newspapers.’ Once I got back from the milk run, I stuck to my plan of leaving London for the day.
The second indication that I was not yet widely known as a published writer was on a Shell forecourt off the A20. Due to driving, I had been out of the social media loop for almost 50 whole minutes, so was keen to catch up while fuelling the car. I had barely tapped notifications on Twitter when a tannoy announcement suggested I stop using my phone by the pump, and cut-off the fuel supply. Pretending I hadn’t heard, and had actually intended to fill the car with only £4:32 of diesel, I went in to pay for some shopping. “I turned your pump off because you were texting.” the cashier gleefully announced. “I wasn’t texting.” I said more petulantly than I intended. Anyway, I was convinced she would imminently recognise me as a published author justified in checking Twitter news. But she didn’t. “Why can’t you text?” I asked. “Because it can cause a spark.” she answered. “Has that ever happened?” I replied, “I mean, a petrol station blowing up from a sparking mobile phone?” She stared at me. “Look at Youtube.” she snapped, like I was the only person left alive not having watched a series of petrol stations exploding through someone texting their mum.
It perfectly illustrates how nothing has changed. Social media is awash with lovely Likes and comments, which will ebb, doubtlessly leaving me bereft. There’s still the sound of Cheerios crunching underfoot, as opposed to Seychelles white sand. There’s still only 24 hours in the day, and I managed to cut my nose shaving, which made it a day of two firsts.
Publication is a fence I’ve been running to leap over for twenty years without any thought as to which way to land – forward roll, the splits, or careen into the nearest gorse bush to emerge quicker than I went in. Time will tell, but at risk of sounding like one of those positive affirmations, publication day was one to savour. It’s certainly a day to quit worrying about MS spell-check missing thong instead of thing throughout the 300 pages of the Life Assistance Agency. It’s a day like no other, although most writers would claim it’s the best day to start writing the next novel. Which is lucky, because the most popular question since publication is “Have you started a 2nd one?” Perhaps then I’ll be allowed to text at the pump.
In case you’ve escaped the blanket bombing promotion of the Life Assistance Agency, it can be purchased here:
And at Foyles here: http://bit.ly/2d8wdT9
Or even better from a bookshop, where you get a cuddle. At least in the right ones.