Someone asked me ‘how is your book doing?’ Without thinking, I said, ‘which one?’ As soon as I said it, I realised how arrogant that sounded. I genuinely meant it as a straight question. It got worse!
‘Your latest one.’
'The one just published or the one I recently sent to my publisher?’
By now I was digging a hole and I was slipping deeper into embarrassment. I tried to start again. ‘I have written a few.'
‘Oh, I didn’t know. You must have a lot of time on your hands’.
I was put in my place and I was let off my own hook and felt closure.
Ask any writer hurrying to write all the books bubbling around in his mind and he will confess to working on several at once.
First, there is the one on its way down the slipway, being launched onto the indifferent and heedless sea of readers.
Then, there is the one at the sacrificial stage of being offered to an editor.
Close on the heels of that is the half-shaped “but with some wonderful characters with superb story lines” that is boiling around in a primordial soup of creativity, still unrestrained by plot, pace and arcs.
Finally a quick rummage through ‘The Notebook’ suggests plots, ideas and genres hanging on the pegs of phrases, single words and ‘I wonder what would it look like if I wrote up that experience?’
No wonder writers don’t go out more. The world outside the door can be quite dull (no pace, little plot, no proper start and no end in sight yet) and is not always under our control.
Why clutter my mind with rubbish from outside when I have plenty of it already inside my imagination just waiting to be recycled into a great work of art? Ok, maybe not a great work of art, more like a good story. Ok, possibly an interesting read. Ok then, a few pages to pass the time on the journey. It is a long way to New Zealand.
I wonder what that would look like if I made it into a story.
(Editor: You already did.
Editor: It was your first.
Me: Ahh, you mean that book.)