Sunday, 27 September 2009

on being published

I really like this photo a reader sent to me of Cut Short on a lovely summer's day. You can almost feel the cool glass of Pimms in your hand as you reach down to pick up the books, and the sun on your face as you lie back in the hammock - or is it a lounger beside the pool?
I always tell my pupils to watch out for 'but' - possibly the most significant word in the language. With one syllable everything is instantly turned on its head. "I'd love to help you, but---" How many times have we all heard (and even said) that? So here it comes - the 'but' . . . but the summer is over. The evenings are drawing in. Not long ago, the days lasted until ten, ten thirty. Those long summer evenings . . . Now the night arrives so promptly, I'm not even sure when the sun sets. All I know is, I look out of the window at seven and it's night time. There's a chill in the air early in the morning. Before long I'll be scrabbling around under the driving seat of my car hunting for my little plastic scraper to dig away at the ice on my windscreen before I can set off for work. Gloves. Where are my gloves?
Over the course of this short summer my whole life has been transformed, as though a vast ‘but’ has descended on me. (I love blogging. I can ramble on, being as wordy – and inconsequential – as I please. If I wrote like this in my books, my editor would be sharpening her knife – ‘Cut! Cut!’)
Before the summer I was an aspiring writer, with a three book contract from a publisher, wondering if I’d ever see my book actually in print. Now, less than three months later, my publisher has a poster acclaiming me as a ‘popular best selling author’. Today I’m off to Havant Literary Festival to give a talk as an author. People have paid to buy tickets to hear me speak. Thousands of strangers are buying my book, which has already been reprinted.
Sometimes the ‘but’ can turn life around in a positive way. Ten weeks ago I was a writer, but now I’m a published author. Who cares about the long winter evenings? As long as I’m sitting at my keyboard, I’m happy. (“But what if there’s a power cut,” did I hear someone say?) I’d better add a very strong torch – and some batteries – to my shopping list. So that’s gloves, ice scraper, torch, batteries . . . and another bottle of Pimms. It won’t be long until the summer comes around again. Road Closed will be in the bookshops, and I’ll be a twice published author! (But nothing will match the excitement of being a first time author.)

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