Most writers spend months (years?) wondering if their little story has enough gumption for the big bad world, and I was no different. But my secrets out. It has happened – my final copies of Losing Kate have arrived – with much fanfare (our dog bailing up the courier, and my three boys running naked in the yard with water-pistols).
I’ve had a busy few weeks flaunting Kate about, and now that the dust has settled it has finally sunk in. Publishing a book feels like a child leaving home. A hope that you’ve done your best, that you’ve brought them up right.
She’s gone. Out in the world. Alone. With only a thin coat of high-gloss and that fresh-book-smell to keep her Bembo-Font warm.
But so far, LK seems to be doing just fine; holding her own, keeping out of trouble – and has even been asked to pop over to Germany! (Guten Tag!) I am no longer worried that she’ll turn up at my door (by the box-full), demanding her old room back. She seems to be reveling in her new-found independence and I hear quite a few not-insane people outside-my-family have actually bought it! So not a dismal failure! Phew!
So has the simple act of ticking “publish a book” off my bucket list, changed me?
I’m a fairly down to earth person (and still have the odd thought that perhaps Bev and Lex might’ve gone a bit nutty in that slush-pile-room picking my script). So I was sure this writing caper – that started as nothing more than a housework avoidance strategy, would not overwhelm me. I’ve never considered myself an arty person. I value honesty and saying it like it is. I’m not into art galleries, poetry, naval gazing, or the like. I’ve always been one to not speak out unless I’m absolutely sure what I have to say is relevant, correct, and not about to bother anybody else. I have confidence in my writing, and I am proud of my debut novel, but part of me has a slight twinge of unworthiness, being categorised as an “artist”. (Who asked me anyway?).
But now that my work, which despite being fiction, has pieces of me hiding-in-plain-sight on every page (even if it’s just a description of a person I observed on a train or the anecdote told to me over coffee), the rules have changed. In deciding to publish, I’ve been given the chance to speak, so by all fairness, the reader has the right of reply. And of course, any self-obsessed author wants to know about it when they do.
I’ll admit, since the launch of Losing Kate a few weeks back I’ve become one of those self-obsessed people that Google their own name. All the time. Variations, just to be sure I haven’t missed a review, a mention, a new plug. And I tell you, self-obsession can be very draining! Even with corker reviews. Although I am sure my condition is temporary..,I hope. (There’s washing to be done!)
When asked if it gets easier (with subsequent books) Helene Young, at her recent Brisbane launch of Safe Harbour, said, “No, it get’s harder!”.
And I think that will prove correct. Your first book was written in your own time with no one anticipating it. With subsequent works, readers have expectations, publishers have deadlines, writers can feel rushed (enter second book syndrome).
Last week (whilst self-googling, as you do, as a legitimate branding/business management strategy (cough)) I noticed Losing Kate sitting pretty at #1 on iTunes. In a mad panic I took a screenshot, thinking I’ll blink and miss this moment in (no-one-cares-but-me) history, only to be replaced by a proper-authory-person. But by some miracle LK darted back-and-forth in the big league between some esteemed company for a respectable few weeks, until Matthew Rielly and all his fabulousness took the reigns with a book or three ;). Yes, those self doubts may never go away (and perhaps they shouldn’t).
At the end of the day, I can’t take this gig too seriously, I make stuff up for a living. It’s storytelling, after all – not world peace or a cure for cancer, as this quote eloquently points out:
“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armour and attacked a hot fudge sundae” — Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist
So I plan to take any success or lack-there-of in my stride. You can’t please everyone, no matter how good you think (or don’t) think you are.
Where you can find me:
Thanks to all the reviewers who have taken the time to invest time in a newbie and share your valued viewpoints (you can read some insights on Losing Kate at Goodreads). Here is a link to a few.
Brisvegas dwellers, I’ll be out and about at local libraries and bookshops soon (calendar below). I am also making my way down to Sydney to meet up with RWA members, and attend the ARRA book signing on Saturday 9th August. (along with an array of other authors). This is a ticketed event and you can buy tickets here. Please come say hi (I’m not too scary, unless you happen to be one of my son’s and haven’t eaten your peas, then I get pretty hard-core. I may even spit a little.).
Or if you’re a bit shy, drop me a line at email@example.com. I’d love to hear about your favourite characters, the annoying bits, and parts you liked best.
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