Whenever I finish writing a book I carry out a frenzied tidy-up of the area where I work, and for a day or two it looks neat and organized. Within a couple of days it's back to the usual mess: it seems I'm incapable of working in a clutter-free environment. But even when I've had one of those big clear-outs, there are certain things that stay; little objects, pictures or cuttings which have accumulated over many years and which for various reasons, will never be consigned to the rubbish bin or stuffed in the back of a drawer. As well as taking over desk space, surrounding walls and cupboard doors aren't spared from the general clutter build-up. Blu-tacked to the cupboard next to my computer for example, is my one remaining business card from the days when I was a magazine editor, a photo taken at my dog's first Agility competition, a couple of flukily won archery medals, a sighthound tassel, old press passes - and one of my favourite newspaper clippings.
It's a Snoopy cartoon which so resonated with me at the time that I actually went and found the scissors so I could carefully cut it out, and twenty years later I still have it. In it, Snoopy is sitting at his typewriter, tapping out a letter which reads: 'Dear Editor, Why do you keep sending my stories back? You're supposed to print them and make me rich and famous. What is it with you?'
Yellowed and tatty now, I still look at it every day and it never fails to make me smile and feel better whenever I get a book rejection. But now we are in the age of the e-book, so it doesn't really matter any more if a publisher fails to see the inspired genius of my works. Hey! I don't need publishers any more. I can go right ahead and publish whatever I want to write, and without having to make any concessions to what they want. And what's more, because I don't have to submit my work to a publisher, I no longer have to wait months for a response or live with the fear that they'll pinch my idea (and yes, this has happened twice now) and farm it out to someone else to write.
Nevertheless, there are a few nagging worries lurking at the back of my mind, topmost of which is that maybe the Editor is Right and does Know Best after all. But I'm squashing that treacherous thought down as firmly as I can: only time and e-booking will ultimately tell.