dimanche 10 novembre 2019

Trick Pony

After I've written a book, I always feel like I've pulled off some sort of black magic that I may never manage again. It's always a panicky, identity-shifting feeling. Who am I if I can't say 'I'm a writer'?

I've been through it enough times now that I know I will have several ideas in between books that won't come to anything. Ideas that aren't really very good, that are too flimsy to sustain an entire book (or my interest). Invariably I will tell people that I'm working very hard on something new, then feel embarrassed when it fades out to nothing. I have abandoned half-books and even whole books before.

This time I've found that I don't care nearly as much. I think I will probably write another book. It's what I do. I only want to do it if I think I have something interesting to say. There are a lot of books in the world.

I think sometimes you know when you're really onto something. The 'breadcrumbs of curiosity' that fall into your life and point you towards what you're supposed to be doing. You can't force it.

I haven't worked on anything in earnest since STAUNCH came out.

Because publishing works very slowly, that means it is well over a year since I wrote anything with the intention of it becoming a book.

Amazingly, for the first time, I'm fine with that. I've had a great time. I've been on loads of holidays. I've read lots of other books. I've taken up knitting again. I've watched loads of TV - I'm more OK than ever with really doing nothing. I've got quite into gardening.

I've given up smoking and cut my hair and moved in with my boyfriend. I've seen a lot of my friends. I've spoken on the phone to my nan most days. I've started taking evening classes.

I have had a lot going on, most of it good, and I now consciously remind myself to be gentle with myself. I try to treat myself as I would a dear friend, a friend who I really love. A friend who I treat with kind care. I tell myself not to panic.

I might or might not have a new idea.

vendredi 8 novembre 2019

The proof is in

I received proof copies of STAUNCH this week. These are the uncorrected proofs, bound like a book but not quite a finished one yet, which will be sent out to people as pre-publicity for the real book (which comes out in March).

It's a funny feeling. This is the third 'proper' book that I have written by myself (there have also been e-books and collaborative projects and many manuscripts that have never seen the light of day). I tried so hard to have a book published for so long, I thought I would feel very emotional about finally seeing my book as a real object. When it finally happened, there was a lot of other stuff going on and I didn't really give myself enough time or space to feel my feelings - curiously, I felt nothing. I didn't feel any of the validation that I had always assumed I would. I didn't even feel particularly proud of myself. It seemed entirely separate from me. I guess there's a lesson about unfillable spaces and how all the books and boys and drinks in the world won't make a difference.

This time, though, it was different. The box arrived and it took me a little while to open it. I circled it in my kitchen. The cat sat on it. I made myself a cup of coffee. I sat down and opened it slowly.

I bought myself flowers. I ate some cake. I set up a little shrine on my kitchen table, with candles and a few objects I had bought in India.

I sat there at the kitchen table, where I wrote the whole book. I felt really proud of myself. This book came from my guts and I am now actually really excited about it coming out into the world.

My boyfriend came home from work and I wouldn't let him touch it, but we danced around the kitchen.

'I'm proud of you,' he said.

And so am I.

STAUNCH. Coming March 2020.