Monday, January 07, 2008



'Getting published is like farting at a party.'
Philip Larkin

'I try to preserve in myself a feeling as a writer that I had when I started writing; that is, anonymity, obscurity and a feeling of newness about what you're doing. Before I ever wrote a book no one was waiting for me to write a book, no one cared if I wrote a book; I was just interested in doing it. And that's how I always want to feel when I write. After you publish you're supposedly a professional, you have an editor who's waiting for your next book, an audience - all these things attach themselves, too, and if you're going to be professional you have to deal with that, but it's not what you want to think about when you're writing, and it's easier to do that outside New York.'

Jeffrey Eugenides (on leaving New York in 1999 to live in Berlin)
talking to Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph, 5.1.07

Oh for the luxury, but I do know what he means. When I got an agent, and an editor and all the rest, it was a fantastic boost. Seeing my books in the shops obviously made me feel more like a writer than I did before. I had more confidence in myself and belief that I could get down to and complete the second novel. But there was also a time limit, and the sorry fact that my (very bright and experienced) agent didn't like it. Writing in the knowledge that it's going to be out there and read does give a more self-conscious edge to things. I don't publish under my own name, I don't write here under my own name, I'm a bit of an anonymity freak. I think writing novels has something to do with telling the truth through lying, as much as making TV docs was full of tricks and literal (film-making) untruths in order to convey the truth. If I'm not being myself I find that easier to do. Somehow I manage to kid myself I'm someone else telling the story, which gives me more freedom.

These days there's only one day of the year when I feel like a professional writer, and that's PLR day. The day the Public Lending Right people let you know how many times your books have been borrowed from public libraries and how much you are to be paid. It's truly astonishing to discover that my novels still have some kind of life out there.

Novel 1 (pub. mass market paperback 2003, current Amazon ranking 125,307)
3430 loans £205.11

Novel 2 (pub. mass market paperback 2004, current Amazon ranking 420,328)
4221 loans £252.42

Non-fiction 1 (plugged in newspaper several times a month, no royalties commission, current Amazon, 211,696)
844 loans £50.47

Non-fiction 2 (stupendously obscure, no royalties commission, current Amazon 1,638,146)
1770 loans £105.85

That'll buy me a few weeks rewrite time.

I have always loved libraries and librarians (esp when a BBC researcher) & have been really happy to rediscover my new local Kensington & Chelsea branch is as I left it a decade or so ago. We are lucky, other parts of the country aren't so. See Susan Hill's blog, January 2nd.

Now must get back to novel 3 rewrite, overdue. I don't have a contract, just interested parties, so it's better to get it absolutely right now. Hah. It's the third day of the post-Christmas rewrite and I am not getting very far. There's still the novelty of being online, re-joining Facebook, catching up on this blog, emails etc. Am also back at the beginning again. I went there to insert the new thoughts I'd had whilst doing all the 'by hand' writing when the laptop was being fixed. Chapter 1 was OK but I found Chapter 2 needed lots of fixing....

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.


Anonymous said...

So glad to see you back at Facebook. Plus, I don't want my "friends" count to dip ;) Am back in the saddle working furiously for school....
Happy New Year! xxoo D

Debs said...

Best of luck with the rewrite. As I'm one of the great unpublished I don't have to worry about being given deadlines by other people.

Anne Brooke said...

Ooh, you're on Facebook - come and pay me a call! - you can find the link on the Blog page of my website - - and also well done on that extra money and sales. The PLR people only ever write me letters saying "who the hell are you?!"


Love & hugs