My second book, the somewhat dubiously titled Hello Sailor is published today. This means a sudden and uncomfortable switch from it being a personal, private bit of work, to something that anyone can read.
This was something I didn’t really think about with my first book, The Hour, until a school friend I hadn’t been in touch with for many years, having read the book, got in touch via my publisher. I gave her a ring back, and started explaining just how life had been going since I pipped her to the sixth-form geography prize. “I’ve got a partner,” I started.
“Oh, yes, Louisa,” she said.
“How did you know that?”
“It’s in your book, you twit.”
And so on. People know things I don’t expect them to know.
Or, someone you’ve never met will start a conversation that is simply baffling. One stranger approached me at a bike race, and said, apropos of nothing at all, “Did you ever get the glue off that TV remote control?” I can only assume it’s a reference to something I wrote somewhere. (What will happen now, of course, is that everyone who’s ever read this blog will greet me with the words, “Did you ever get…” and so on. It’ll be like a secret password. A really stupid one.)
The other thing that happens today is that, somehow, the book becomes final. I’ve spent so long with the manuscript and Word files for Hello Sailor that I’ve become used to the idea that I can change anything I don’t like. Other people’s books are cast in stone – your own, you can alter at will. At least, until today. Now, if I don’t like it, I’m stuck with it.
The final thing that happens is that now I can start worrying in earnest about whether or not anyone is actually going to buy it, and if they do, whether they’re going to like it. I’d love to report that I don’t care about these things, like a proper artist, but I’m afraid I do.