This is an old blog post from Summer 2013. I’ve reused it partly because at the moment I’m working hard to get my latest novel to a decent standard ahead of a publication deadline, (self-imposed, always the worst) so it’s encouraging me, and partly because I’ve got a filthy cold/cough and I can’t ‘brain’ today. This harks back to those heady days when I thought a ‘real’ publisher might take me on, and I waited for the rejected manuscript to be returned. Oh my aching sides!
Quote of the week: ‘A book is so much a part of one’s life that in delivering it to the public one feels as if one were pushing one’s own child out into the traffic.’ Quentin Bell, nephew of Virginia Woolf and author of a number of biographies including the fabulous ‘Charleston’.
Yes, Quentin, that is exactly how one feels about one’s book!
You see, it’s kind of a weird thing, but as you write, the book/fag packet/old envelope becomes a living thing. And like a child, (one’s own child!) it seems so fragile, so vulnerable, so at the mercy of strong winds and icy chills. And once you’ve bundled up said child book to send it off into the world all alone, there is a certain amount of anxiety that attends its imminent return, and you hang around the front door, or the post box, wringing your hands, hoping for a glimpse, a clue, anything to tell you (or to tell one, I should say) how your baby is faring. And of course, until the parcel is dumped in your greenhouse with a note through the door saying the postman has left you a package, you have no idea what is happening.
Sometimes I look at my piles of paper, and think, ‘There you are, all snug and safe. No scary people are going to hurt you if you stay here with Mummy.’
Of course, if I’m really honest with myself (usually about two o’clock in the morning), it’s me that is afraid of being hurt. And it’s me who is afraid of being unappreciated, or proved to be talentless or who will remain unsuccessful. So really, this manuscript is an extension of myself, my hopes, my dreams. But I’ve discovered that the only way to achieve is to do. If you wait until you are ‘ready’, you won’t achieve anything. If I do want something to happen in my life, if I do want something to change, to have any chance of increasing and developing my writing skills, of being successful, I have got to make myself do it. It’s time to take a risk. I’ve got to step out into the traffic.