First, though, I should pause a while and consider your feelings. Thing is, it's easy for me to jump for joy about another writer being published for the first time, but I remember how I felt when I was unpublished and heard about another bloody debut author laughing all the way to the launch party.
So, if you have a tendency towards that, brace yourselves. And then, if possible, summon up the heart to say ahhhhhh and awwww. Because this is really very sweet.
What am I talking about? Here she is to tell you all about it - Cally Taylor with her new book Heaven can Wait (apt title)?? The post is from three weeks ago but now her book is actually out. And you can buy it here.
Hooray for success, because it can happen. And hooray for writers amongst you who can find it in themselves to be a lot nicer than I could have been....
And, most importantly, listen, learn, practise and hold onto your dream but with a very important dollop of knowledge and understanding.
(Do you want to know a secret? It doesn't go away, that feeling of wanting to stroke your new book. I stroke mine and hold them to my heart, a bit like a baby, and smell them and breathe them in. There's one thing I don't do, though: open them. God, you never know what you might find.)
Congrats to anyone who is published.
I had to sign some copies of my children's book for the Scottish Museum this week and for an Edinburgh bookshop. I had heard my book was on the shelves in good places, but I had not gone out of my way to see it. So, signing these copies was the first of me really seeing it out there. I didn't know whether to run or stand there looking at it on the shelf... looking slightly gormless is what I reckoned I'd have looked... what if somebody I knew saw me watching my own book doing nothing?
Yep, ok with touching it, holding it up for others to see my name on it and the great cover... but as for opening it... nightmare... all those bad sentences that will only jump out at you now that it is in print! Arghhh!
Best just to look at the cover.
Congrats again to anyone who is published.
Sure, I'm jealous when people get published and I haven't been. But then, I kind of have to finish a novel and get it ready to be subbed otu first, don't I. So it's my own stupid fault I only have short stories published.
On the other hand, I am not that jealous. I would even bake them cookies and refrain from adding poison!
I particularly love your last paragraph. You never do know what you might find. Rather like looking in photo albums with your boyfriend from high school. Or worse: Playing random found cassette tapes from that era when you don't know what's on them!
I sometimes look at the five or six copies of my book on my bookshelf and swoon. They're so glossy and they smell like a book should smell. Sort of clean and chemically.But I don't think I would ever read it because I am a better writer now.
And I remember the first time I went into a bookshelf where I hadn't shmoozed the owner or the clerks and my book was there and facing outwards on the shelf.
Because I wanted to write for children from about the age of ten, I spent my teenage years feeling particularly murderous towards any 'young prodigies' who had written a book at my own approximate age of 15, 16, 17 etc...
And when you're a teenager yourself, of course, murderous is VERY murderous.
It took me several decades before I wrote a book good enough to be published. And maybe now the teenage prodigies I felt so jealous towards aren't writers at all. Very young and very clever people can seem brilliant at all sorts of things, and end up doing something completely different. You've got to stick at it.
I love your last comment. My MS, now six months old, is dead meat for me. To look at it now would be the equivalent of resurrecting someone I once knew.
I have received my second agent's rejection, but am not down as they were so positive - I will blog on it some time - however, as I said, it seems to me they are talking of an item long buried.
I am jealous of something or someone almost all the time. Used to be jealous of the published. Now I'm jealous of the published who win awards. Used to be jealous of authors who got good reviews in newspapers. Then my book got good reviews in newspapers. Now I'm jealous of the authors who have tons of good Amazon and Goodreads reviews. It never ends. I might as well get used to it. I looked at the picture of Cally admiring her book, and I was jealous of her because when my books came, I only felt anxiety and panic attacks.
DOT - only your second rejection? Goodness, you're positive virginal!
Jo - Oh, the smell of a book, especially a book what you wrote! Mmmmm.
Karen, Katherine and Writtenwyrdd - I think you get my point! (But Wwyrdd: "only" short stories?? Published is published. But i know what you mean, if you are holding out for something in particular, eg novels. I did the same. You don't have a choice, really, I guess)
Katherine - very indeedy
Karen - sounds like ambition, hunger - and both those things are good, in my view. Though often painful
Congrats to Cally! (I saw a bit of Heaven Can Wait in the very early stages, on WriteWords...)
Unfortunately, you can't altogether avoid re-reading your own words, since readings (bookshops, creative writing departments, festivals) have an annoying habit of asking you to nail your colours to the mast by actually reading some of your work aloud. You thought we choose which bits to read for high drama, or crucial plot moments... No, it's for the bits we can read without cringeing.
I certainly feel a little bit of envy for everyone who gets published, but on the flip side, I think it's a great sign for those of us who are unpublished. New authors getting signed and finding publishers! How can that not be exciting and encouraging? :)
Congrats to Carly!
Aww. Well, congrats to Cally Taylor. I actually think I'll be purchasing her book soon!
And thanks for sharing the secret. ;)
After 30 books this is what Philip Roth said in a Wall Street Journal interview:
How does Charles Dickens fit? He wrote for monthly publications.
He's one of those people with great popular appeal… and is a genius. They are the rarest of all birds. Our great writers didn't have that. Melville died in obscurity. Faulkner wasn't widely read. Bellow wasn't widely read. The best are rarely widely read… There's always been a popular novel and every once in a while a genius happens to be a popular novelist. But that's not the rule.
Emma - indeed, we can't avoid it. Though actually, I usually don't read from my books: I talk and tell the stories behind the stories. Once, (only once) I read the first chapter of Fleshmarket aloud and someone fainted, which was incredibly annoying because it ruined my flow! Though it was rather cool... My latest book I actually do read 3 short bits from, simply because it happens to be the best way to inspire people to be interested in the book. But I prefer authors not to read much when they do talks - after all, I can read it myself if I want to. What I want is to hear them speak interestingly and eloquently. But I agree with your point.
Anonymous - I'm not sure what point you're making but don't forget the many thousands of authors in between "genius" and "popular" (and we may all define those terms differently) who are enjoying their moments of small fame and huge pleasure when they are interviewed or praised or enjoyed by readers. Every author is different and differently finds a place.
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