Tuesday, 9 June 2009


When I first blogged about getting the book deal, I swore I wouldn’t turn into one of those whingeing bloggers who type swift, miffed posts about deadlines and agent lunches and oh my God, you just don’t understand the pressure! If they even exist. And I have no intention of starting now. But something is going on...

I’m tense today. Unusually so. Maybe. This is the first proper day back and I’ve been tense all day.

This morning, for example, I was quick to rankle in the doctor’s surgery when they kept me waiting for a full 20 minutes in an otherwise empty room with the telly on full blast - I turned it off - and then asked me where my urine was. I had no urine. This was the first mention of urine. I was handed a tube and pointed towards a disabled toilet. Sullenly, peeved and wretched, I tried. But I had none. Goddammit! It’s the pressure! No one understands the pressure! So then I had to make another trip to the surgery this afternoon, armed with a small warm tube of angry yellow urine. I know, I know. Walk away from the gag.

Then, an hour or so later, Gchatting to a friend, I was tetchy. Unnecessarily so. If In fact, if I’m being perfectly honest, I was probably petulant to boot.

Then, around teatime, I became positively livid because I couldn’t buy rail tickets to London - my destination this Thursday - from Sunderland - my point of departure - without first going to Newcastle or Durham to pick up my ‘fast tickets’. Oh, the irony. Of course, had I been made aware of this, National Express, you sloppy motherfuckers, before I embarked upon the online booking process, I would have gone to the train station in person and accomplished everything in one fell swoop.

So I have to waste at least two hours of my precious, angry life, if not more, piddling about in search of a system that makes fucking sense.

It is galling, but I overreacted, sighing and stomping my feet, on the telephone, whining to the call centre lady, ‘But it’s a hideous, ridiculous world, isn’t it?’ ‘M-hm.’ ‘Isn’t it though? Say it is.’

Jesus. Leave it.

But it’s not just the National Health and National Express. (Oh, I also went to Vision Express this afternoon because I AM GOING BLIND! But they were quite nice, so I can’t really be churlish about them.) No. It’s more than quotidian awfulness. I’m feeling tense because… I’ve been trying to pinpoint it for a few hours now and I think it comes down to this: I’m afraid.

As always. It really never ends, does it? You get what you want and there’s barely time to pat yourself on the back before you’re plagued by fear of failure.

I’ve got so little faith in myself, even after having achieved a fair bit in the last 18 months. I’m afraid of everything falling apart and fading away. Not with a bang, but a feeble whine. I’m terrified of the book ebbing tepidly into total obscurity, not even bold enough to prompt proper enmity. And I’m afraid of the shame of whoring myself to give the book every chance of being read. But I know I have to. Even so, begging people to review your book is grody to the max. If they want to review it, they’ll review it. Must I send them Spamazon? Ohhh, I don’t know.

And more than all of that, I’m terrified of becoming boring, of having nothing to blog about but all this clunking bunkum and self-regarding bum gravy. And it is. It is bum gravy.

Hopefully though, this is me getting it out of my system.

Actually, I think I've just realised the solution. If faith is difficult to come by, probably the best solution is to just fake it.

So, tomorrow, I shall be blogging pictures from the final leg of the European Book Tour. Then we’ll work out the best way to sign books for those of you who’d like them signed, without me cringeing in on myself like a vampire trapped in a shaft of sun. Oh, come on, now that is embarrassing.

Now I must away and answer some questions for a Sky journalist. I know! First Harper Collins, now Sky. I’m so far up the scat-pipe of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that I can practically tickle the Dirty Digger’s semi-colon with the tip of my tongue!

Thanks to Swineshead, the grumpy bastard who often takes issue with me for no reason, for the light relief.

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Valerie said...

I suspect all of us who dream of having a book published subconsciously feel that the publication will gild us, in all our warty splendor. That we will never have reason for self-doubt again. Doors will swing open, waiters will show us to the best tables, and everyone, of course, will have read our book. I know I keep thinking that if only I had a book published, I'd finally have faith in myself.

But it's bullshit of course. I thought that before I had poems published, and then again before I had short stories published, and then again before I got paid for short stories because surely that would make a difference, and then before I got fan mail from people I didn't know, because surely that was the key, wasn't it?

Drat it all.

However, you have gone and written a marvellous book. Look, I reviewed it on Amazon and everything. So I hope there is a glimmer of satisfaction in that, because honestly, I've read a lot of bloggers' books now and they ain't all nohow as good as your'n.

amy grace said...

I think you'd really enjoy my buddy Joe Peacock's blog. And what you're going through right now with the book publishing and pressure reminds me of a TED presentation he posted a while back: http://www.joethepeacock.com/2009/05/hey-creative-types-watch-this.php


Panda said...


Don't get me wrong - I feel for you completely but did you not anticipate this a little? The concept of the unavoidable anti-climax is so universal that dramatic fiction relies on it.

But, you're experiencing something so natural: the emptiness of the actor at the end of the theatre-run, the disquiet of the artist when the painting is finished. You're just empty and beginning to hunger for the next venture, but the hunger isn't deep enough yet; all you can project so far is something trite and pedestrian: you have to be really, really hungry for the next step.

Viz, I'm technically a great painter but I could never do it commercially because I have to reach this point of creative hunger between every work. Everything produced otherwise is somehow morally threadbare and lacks the ability to really provoke interest.

So feel the disquiet, the flatness, the lack of faith. It's all part of the genesis of your next endeavour.


lilianavonk said...

It was only last night I was confessing that despite the fact that I was well and truly thrilled that Lisa (AlrightTit) has gotten the book deal that she so eminently deserves, at the same time there's a part of me that's dead envious...but I'm not at all sure that I'd want to contend with not only the inevitable loss of privacy that comes with being published, but also how mercilessly one is thence forced to pimp one's own work to all and sundry in consequence.

And thus I can only say that such crises of faith are par for the course, as well as of course part of what makes you such an amazing writer in the first place.

Chin up, lad. Chin up. :)

Maureen said...

I'm an artist and a few years ago I had a big solo exhibit with a 16 month build-up, and after it was all over, I didn't paint again for a year.

Ian said...

Um, do you feel this way about the same time every month?
A great day for me - your book arrived and I have my nose in it at every opportunity. For some reason I'd expected a paperback but it's a real grown-up hard cover with proper paper wrapper .... I'll try to mention something more relevant than that when I post my Amazon review.

Tim Footman said...

Books are so last century, Stanley. Arnold Schwarzenegger says so, and he probably read one once.

Agree with you about Vision Express, though - I've always found them charming and helpful, with no hard sell.

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

I'm less disturbed about self-aggrandizing book authoring mentions and more worried about your usage of the term "grody to the max".

Megan said...

I hate it when they ask for pee. The last time they asked me, I huffed about for an hour before finally giving up and stomping off to the toilets, stupid little pot in hand. No one in a hospital seems to think that you may feel embarassed by wandering around with a little tube of piss.

Oh, and I'd watch out going near Newcastle or Durham these days - the weather has suddenly been going all apocolypse-style and raining for ages, totally not expecting that with all the sun we've had. Ah well, that's North-East weather for you. x

Anonymous said...

London Tube strike a go go. Havta stay home - no work for 2 days. Tragic.

Might even buy this here book of yours....

Am expecting to see you on Punch and Judy er Fern and Fillit er you know what I mean. Innit.


Antipo Déesse said...

Darlin', with the use expressions such as 'bum gravy' to delight the cockles of my heart, you will never be boring.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
You need Wellington to have a go at you again,to be back on the 'no whingeing' track.
Uncle Did

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

If it's any consolation, it's a really really common reaction. You get a book deal, you get briefly excited, then you get consumed with anxiety, fear, self doubt, etc... and even worse, you feel like a right mardy ungrateful bastard if you voice any of that uncertainty.

When I first got a deal I was super-excited for a few hours, but then I started fretting about everything from failure to success, with a whole gamut of unlikely awfulnesses between.

I managed to pull myself out of that, but there have been several similar low points since.

Everyone's different, but I and a lot of people I know have found it really helpful to join (online in our case, but I guess they exist offline too) writers' communities. There are several different flavours of these - take your pick. But that way you can have a good old angst-ridden moan about whatever's freaking you out, and you don't have to worry about an audience who'd jump into your toe-pinching shoes given half a chance, and therefore hate you for complaining about the blisters.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

PS: Divine Dissatisfaction. There's a whole quote about it which I can't be bothered to dig up, but the dissatisfaction is what most artists feel, and the divine bit is about accepting it as part of the process. Relishing it, even.

Pearl said...

Yesterday, to help out a friend, I was did a talk for some students about my career, which was surreal because I'm not very far into it, and it's been so twisty and turny and I don't really know where I'm going. Anyway, one of them asked me how I had the confidence to do various bits of my job (I do a lot of public speaking and arguing with bigwigs), and my instinctive response was, 'I'm not. I fake it. And then somehow it becomes true.' At work, I'm assertive and confident and cheerful, even though in reality I'm often none of these things. I've heard people call it 'Act As If', and it appears to work. Act as if you're capable to doing something, and you'll find that you are (clearly, there are limits to this. If I decide to act like Paris Hilton I'm not going to become Paris Hilton, and people will just laugh at me).

You're a fantastic writer. That bit's already true. Now you just have to fake the self-confidence until that starts to become reality too.

SugarCain said...

You know you could never be boring. Just a couple of days ago I was thinking how lucky you are because you won't have to think up a new plot and characters for your next book. All you have to do open the box that contains your heart and offer a bite to yet another woman, and you're off again.

You will be fine. You have all of us, don't you?

Misssy M said...

I always remember a quote for one of the lesser known members of 80s bvand The Housemartins about the band's fame. He said "It's like saving up coupons for ages for something you really want from a catalogue. And then you finally get it and it's rubbish."

Getting a book published is hard. Your book then becoming a bestseller is nigh on impossible. Start on book two to remember why you did it all in the first place. That's what I'd advise to keep the bleh away.

Litha said...

A century from now nobody will remember the bestsellers of the year 2009.

You think too much Stan. Relax and enjoy.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Hey, do you remember the questionnaire? What happened to that then? OK, so that's a stupid question. Obviously what happened was that it faded into the past and became a Lost Project, wandering in the Lost Project Graveyard and wailing a sad tune to itself. There are a few of mine there too.