And a passion for
writing of course, are essential when you dream of being a published novelist,
and I should know… I’ve practically spent my whole life pursuing the dream.
There I was
sitting at the kitchen table, scoffing a Flake and reading about TOWIE people
on the Daily Mail website, like you do when you’re bored and can’t be arsed to
actually do something productive. Some people call it ‘displacement activity’,
I call it wasting time, and I’m the self-appointed queen of wasting time.
Have I ever told
you about the time I wasted well over twenty minutes sniffing the potted
hyacinths on my desk? It was a tricky writing day, didn’t know what was going
to happen next, was having one of those “it’s all crap anyway, so what does it
matter” moments, but anyway, twenty whole minutes… I bet Jackie
doesn’t do that. No, she probably has someone to sniff her hyacinths for her. I
can’t imagine Lucky Santangelo hanging around waiting for her author to write
the next bit.
Anyway, back to
the kitchen table, my laptop pinged to signify the arrival of a new email, and
there it was, the words I’ve fantasised about right back from those days as a
little girl, listening to the Archers, then writing a kids version and
recording it on my granddad’s old reel-to-reel tape recorder, complete with
imaginative sound effects. Did you know that rubbing a crisp packet between
your palms creates a wonderful footsteps-on-a–gravel-drive like sound? True fact.
And this is what
the email said –
to let you know that we have been given the all clear, so I’ll be coming to you
with an offer before the end of the week! Everyone really likes the proposal
and are very excited…
SCREAM. Cue air
guitar, gin, a rodeo of topless cowboys, Anya Hindmarch begging me to accept
her entire Spring/Summer collection of handbags as a gift and quite possibly
turning Tom Ford, oh yes, remember I’d been imagining this moment for donkeys.
But no, none of these things happened; instead I went in to QT’s bedroom,
scooped up her dirty clothes and put them in the washing machine. I then went
in to the kitchen and made a cup of tea. It was pouring the milk in that did
it, the very moment the contents of that email sunk in, the moment I realised.
And that was the moment I cried.
And not graceful
Lady tears like Meryl during an Oscar acceptance speech, no, these were big,
gulping, snivelling sobs for those years of writing in secret before I got the
courage to show anyone and then worrying if it would ever come to something.
Would I ever get to hold my book in my hands? The years of yearning to write
all day as well as all night, but instead, having to commute in to London to
sit at a desk and muster up a modicum of enthusiasm for stuff like “key
performance indicators”, or being told to discipline someone for sending their
husband an email cartoon of Snow White snogging a dwarf… honestly, the fuss
those directors made about that, especially the finance director with his
penchant for perusing the online Hooters calendar, I shit you not.
years of trying to get published as a novelist, completing two novels, starting
several more, signing with two agents, parting with two agents and generally
doing all those things that aspiring novelists do for years and years and years
… it happened. I got me a three book deal with HarperCollins. A series, with
the first novel to be published early next year, which is handy as I‘ve already
written it, just need to get on and write the second one now, deadline 1st
December! Eek, and there you have it folks… the worry starts all over again.
What if it’s a
pile of pony? What if I don’t meet the deadline? What if the world stops
spinning? What if my arms get savaged by wolves and I end up having to tap the
keyboard with a stick sellotaped to my head because I’ve spent the advance and
can’t afford to give it back?
thing… I do love a picture, and I would have shown you one of the
actual contract, but there are probably special laws about that kind of thing,
so here’s one of Poundland instead. Particularly apt as my dear friend Caroline
once said to me, ‘so what are you going to do instead then, get a job in
Poundland?’ That was after yet another one of my “that’s it, I’m giving up
writing” rants. Not that there’s anything wrong with working in Poundland, I’m
just glad I didn’t give up writing, because if I had then I wouldn’t have been
lucky enough to have realised my dream.
Luck and love