7th November 2011 seems a long long time ago - but it is only a year. An awful lot of firsts have happened since then:
- a real first birthday party for a gorgeous granddaughter,
- a successful first year completed at Newcastle University for my younger son,
- my first trip to Athens thanks to the British Council, celebrating the launch of an anthology,
- a first translation of my work into Greek.
- I went to Ghent for the first time.
- Had my first commissions from BBC radio - a short short and an appearance on Radio 3’s The Verb, a short story on Radio 4.
- I attended my first residential poetry course back in August, led by Pascale Petit and Daljit Nagra,
- had my first acceptance from The SHOp in Ireland for a poem I’d sharpened on said course.
- I read my first novel by Julian Barnes - loved it - started a flurry of finding and reading his others.
- Just been teaching in Vienna for the first time, staying with a writer I’ve ‘known’ on the net for years but have just met for the first time, the indomitable Sylvia Petter.
All those firsts - and it just goes to prove that life goes on, even after your first novel comes out with a big publisher!
|US trade paperback|
More firsts. The Coward’s Tale was my first novel. I had reviews and interviews in the national press for the first time. I had a book come out in the USA for the first time. A book by meself was chosen as a book of the year (Financial Times, thanks to critic and writer A N Wilson) for the first time.
Guess what? Nothing changed.
Strange, maybe we writers new to the world of publishing think things are going to change? A bit like waking up the morning after losing your virginity - you expect the world to be different (if I can remember back that far...!) and it just isn’t. Everything looks the same as the night before, and so do you. Ha!
Oh sure, for a very few writers the world changes hugely. But for the vast majority - take it from me - the world keeps on turning at exactly the same pace as before.
So - would I change anything? Not at all. It's been an interesting year, and I have learned a lot.
Did it go as I expected? No!
What advice might I give myself, if I could have a quiet word with ‘Me, a year back’? It would go something like this:
The world of books is a vast and complex one. Your book will fall into the maelstrom like a drop of rainwater into a sea, and become part of something exciting, ever-moving and unpredictable. For all the wonderful efforts of the professional marketers and publicity people, your efforts will be important too. Don’t take your eye off the ball.
Don’t expect anything. Be thankful for every review you get, whether from a professional reviewer in the press or from a kind reader on a blog or a website. Don’t keep dates free because there is a big literary festival on that week, and you might just... You probably won’t.
Do your best by this book, just as you did when writing it. Start something new, and gradually, gradually, transfer your allegiance. Write another novel. Write poetry. Make a cheeseboard.
With lots of love,
|HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY!|