Ten years ago I was crapping myself. I was twenty-five years old and, the next day, my first book was being published. I think that time sums up writing, or a writer’s life, pretty well. Hugely excited and proud, but terrified too. I was good enough that someone wanted to publish me but I was desperately worried that I wasn’t good enough to be liked. Thrilled my name was on a book but so, so worried that no one would buy it and that it wouldn’t be read. You know, people talk about putting your money where your mouth is and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that more than then.
And I’m not even sure that ever goes away – ten years, loads of stories and four more books later, I still have that fear – and I’m not even sure that that’s a bad thing. For me, it makes me work harder. I think I tell myself that if I can make it even a little harder for people to find out I’m a phonie then it’s worth it. I don’t think I don’t know any decent writer who doesn’t doubt their ability or worry that, one day, they’ll be proven to have been winging it.
I’ve heard people say that releasing a book’s like opening your house up to the public and asking them to tell you what they think of how you’ve decorated. Or like walking naked down a high street, asking for people’s opinion of what they see. And it is.
But it’s better than that too. When people like what you’ve written, when you’ve moved them in some way, it’s probably the best feeling in the world. Knowing your words have mattered to someone is a gift.
And I’ve been lucky because people have liked, in some cases, loved what I’ve written and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Even when the writing’s hard. Even when it’s exhausting and when the rejections hurt and even when I’ve had to learn the meaning of the word patience (folks, things in publishing move slowly).
I was going to do some sort of celebratory giveaway thing but I’m that busy over the next couple of weeks that I’d struggle to fit it in. I might put that off until Christmas. For now I want to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s read me, bought me, published me; taken the time to review or to say nice things to me or about my books and stories; met me for cups of tea when I’ve been in unfamiliar cities; booked me for events, invited me into schools, colleges, libraries… I’ll stop there. Basically, thank you to everyone who’s made what can feel like the hardest job in the world feel like the best. Because it probably is.
And here’s me running my first ever workshop.
And about a year after the book came out, opening a library and clearly too tired to shave.
Happy birthday, book.
Here’s hopefully, to many more.