Have I ever mentioned how much I love my job?
Not so much of a job, really. More of a calling.
Take today. (Actually, last week, by the time I post this, but I’m writing it today – a long, long way away from wifi.)
We’re on holiday. Not any old holiday but a big, once- (twice, as it turns out) in-a-lifetime family holiday. Last year was so good we decided to repeat it, leading to many opportunities for dashed expectations, but no, so far this year has been marginally better.
So I don’t need good job things to happen while I’m away. I really don’t. However, after a week of bliss, surrounded by my favourite people in the world but otherwise in the middle of nowhere, my web and email addiction got the better of me and I dragged the clan to the nearest McDonalds.
They have them in the middle of nowhere, and not only that, they provide them with wifi, ‘gratuit et illimité’, so people like me can get our fix while our children stock up on fries and McNuggets like they’re going out of fashion. It was a good day.
I logged on to find 73 unread emails, as you do, of which about 70 were from Amazon, recommending books related to something I considered buying as a one-off in 2006, but 3 were for work and they were these.
- A request to approve the first version of the (gorgeous) cover for book 2
- A couple of questions from my first – Norwegian – translator
- A list of suggestions from a theatrical friend of mine for improving the accuracy and vocabulary of one of the strands of book 2, along with a comment that he (a grown-up father of 2) enjoyed it and, tellingly, finished it in 2 days. Yay yay yay!
As I travelled back with my loving family through the cicada-filled hills of the middle of nowhere, we reflected on the fact that this time last year only the people in the car really knew that I was writing a book at all. Of course, in my wildest fantasies I imagined people one day reading something I’d written, but I didn’t imagine it being what became book 1 and honestly, even in those fantasies, I never imagined it appearing in translation at all, never mind Norwegian. Which just shows the limit of my imagination, of course, but still. Things have come a long way.
I carry my phone religiously but it has rung only once in the last week. On Saturday, I was sitting outside a café with my husband in a village so spectacularly pretty that it looked as though Warner had created it specially for the finale of a rom-com, and helping said husband to finish what was billed as a banana split but was in fact the most delicious banana/chocolate/whipped cream combo ever created. As I say – things were good, and if the call had been about damaged bathroom tiles (a distinct possibility) that would have been ok. But it wasn’t.
It was from the owner of a couple of bookshops, who was calling to say she’d just read my tiny piece in The Times (yay!) to help launch the new Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition, and she wanted to let me know that she’d read Threads on holiday, and loved it, and wanted to assure me it would sell well in September.
So, basically, if you’re thinking of entering a writing competition and wondering whether it’s worth it, and what it would be like if your life changed, it would be like this. Book cover approval. Translator notes. Helpful notes from friends in fascinating industries you’re keen to find out more about. Friendly calls from people you’ve never met, who like your stuff and just wanted to tell you.
Write that book. Send it off. Cross your fingers. Hope for the best. It’s worth it. It really is. It’s even better than a chocolate-coated banana split with whipped cream on top. And that, as we all know, is an almost unbeatable combination.