Seeing it, doing it, surviving it

Copies of our book arrived at my doorstep today, which was very exciting for a while.

Yes: after about a year of co-writing, criticising each others’ writing, criticising proposed cover designs, proofreading the copy editor’s work, proofreading the proofreader’s work, proofreading the designers’ work, criticising the designers’ work, proofreading each others’ criticisms of the designers’ work, and so on (and we’re VERY criticial people), there is actually a book which I can hold and touch and rub and take to bed.

I’ve done all of these things but haven’t actually read a word of it yet. Satisfying though it has been I hope that people who buy the book will also take advantage of the words we have written – whatever they turned out to be after all the criticising.

Anyway, I’m bored of it now. Oh, it’s very lovely to have a pile of books in my house with my name on the side, and it makes visitors say “ooh, is that IT?”

(Only, I can’t help wondering if they mean “oh, is that it?”)

But it’s not enough. I want to see my book in shops, being thumbed by hundreds of people; I want to see reviews, sales figures and Richard and Judy’s book club chatting excitedly about it. In my head crowds are surging into Waterstones and bringing London to a standstill because they need to have a copy.

So the visible reality – fifteen books stacked up on my mantlepiece – begins to look a little meagre.

As if sensing my end-of-the-evening ennouie with the work in question and deciding to deflate me even further, my last visitor of the day (I have many), Alastair, didn’t say “ooh, is that IT?”

He said, “are these off to be pulped?”

No doubt he feels that winning two rounds of the Neighbours board game justifies such rudeness towards a genuine author.

My own enthusiasm for being able to touch a book that I wrote having faded so quickly, I really need people like Alastair to show how impressed they are, so I interpreted his words as a sign of jealousy which is of course the highest form of praise, and am still feeling good as a result.

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