I am in a strange no man's land at the moment. My book came out yesterday but the book launch isn't until next week. And more importantly, a couple of articles in the national press about the book will also not appear until next week. So the book is out but it isn't. And I have no idea what to expect.
A couple of friends who have no knowledge of the book world have said, 'You must be feeling pretty confident about all of this.' My response is, 'Unless you are an absolute fool, then you never feel confident about a book.'
Having said all that, the omens are quite good. The book has had a lot of good publicity, the cover is great, I think. Although the book was crowd funded, it is being distributed by Penguin Random House. Certainly, it should do better than my novels did.
But the truth is that 95% of books sink without trace. And this is true of good books as well as dodgy books. Even publishers are often completely unable to understand why, despite plenty of good omens, a good book goes nowhere. Publishing is like the weather. There is no point in asking why.
From a personal perspective, I have had a wobbly day. Partly it is just that flat feeling that comes at the end of any project. But I'm also suffering from all those strange feelings which do come with having a book published. It feels like walking down the street with no clothes on. It feels raw and invasive. It makes me want to hide. It makes me feel silly. It puts me in the spot light in a way I don't want.
I know my novels produced all these feelings - but a memoir is even more worrying. People can like a novel or not like it. Memoirs have the capacity to cause offence, even to provoke law suits. I do live in fear of the person (and there is certain to be one and maybe many more) who don't like what I've said.
But just a few days ago I found a wonderful quote which made me feel much calmer. It comes from the memoirist Alexandra Fuller. If there is anyone out there who hasn't read her wonderful memoir, 'Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight' then you really should give it a try. I admired it so much.
Since writing that book Alexandra Fuller has written a number of other memoirs which are deeply personal and challenging, as well as being funny and shockingly honest. Her latest book is about her divorce and this is what she said in an interview when the journalist asked that inevitable question about whether family and friends might be upset.
'There's almost this expectation you need to get approval. I doubt Hemingway was asked what his ex-wives thought of his writing. I think women have to stop asking for permission .....'
To me that quote is important and so right. I don't have to ask permission. We none of us have to ask permission. And, in fact, if we do, then we're unlikely to write a good book.