Unreliable narration

Well, I didn’t wear the sequins. Or the Anna Lou brooch I eventually found on the Northcote Road (I never did locate my jewellery box with the elephants in). I did manage the Jasper Conran DJ, but in the end I wore it over the little pink cocktail dress with my name on it that the husband bought me after all, on the afternoon of my book reading.

He took my comments on this blog, and elsewhere, as hints, rather than the submissive acceptance of common sense they were. He is a very nice man.

Having learned from experience, I had my hair done by a professional, which gave me the weird opportunity to ask for the first, and possibly only, time in my life if I could look like Emma Watson. From a hair-stylistic point of view. We agreed I was the spitting image.

The reading itself went fine. I actually enjoyed it. Thank God I wrote a book I can face revisiting. The party around it was surreal. It was in high-baroque surroundings, at Beach Blanket Bablylon in Notting Hill. Not only that, but the weather was perfect, more summer than spring, balmy and blue. And lots of people wanted to meet me. If you go to a publishing event and wander around with a sticker on your chest saying ‘author’, people do. And of those, the ones who’d read the book loved it and understood it and had clearly been made happy by it. I think I only spent about three minutes in my normal party mode of wondering what the hell to do next to pretend that I’m busy.

Somebody said somewhere, and it was repeated, that writing and publishing are two completely different animals. This is useful to know. Writing is private, imaginative and literary. Publishing is collegiate, purposeful and numerate. It’s fun to dip into for a while, but I’d hate to become obsessed by it.

It could be tempting. How many translations? How many copies sold in, and sold out? (I’ve only recently learned those are two different things.) Any movie deal? How big? How many festivals? How many interviews? And I guess, later, how many reviews? How positive? How influential? And where on the book charts? And on Amazon? (Current answer: about 255,000th)

There are endless lists of things to worry about, other than what your characters are up to, if you choose to be so inclined. I can’t believe it leads to happiness. Whereas I know for a fact that getting characters into and out of difficult situations absolutely does.

So far I haven’t sold a single copy of my book. Correction: I’ve pre-sold two (to my ex and current husbands). It’s a nice position to be in because it makes it impossible to take all these numbers seriously. And I haven’t received a bad review (there have been none at all). But I might get a film deal and I might be sold in the States and Germany and Brazil and Japan. Which I gather are the biggest book markets. Again – who knew? It’s perfect and will probably never get any better than this.

No stress. No pressure. Lots of people who like my book and want other people to like it too. Lots of possibilities. Nobody disappointed yet. Second book going fine. I’ll try and turn it into a meditation so I can return to this happy state later, when things get stickier.

Oh, that bit was reliable narration, by the way. The unreliable bit was suggesting I would show up in sequins and then not doing it. Sorry.


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