Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire’

The Return to Berkshire

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Today I am experiencing a childish level of excitement. This is because I woke up this morning to find an email confirming that the review copies of my book will definitely be here by the end of the week! It was frankly the last thing I expected. So much so that as I started up the computer I said sarcastically to my mother “And what do you think the chances are of me having an email saying my review copies are on their way?” She didn’t respond because she was too busy disapproving of me using my computer before 4pm (the arbitrary time that she has plucked out of the air as being a suitable one to start using computers in the day. Just don’t say anything. I know.) So imagine my surprise when there was indeed an email from my publishers in my inbox, and imagine my further surprise when it did indeed confirm the arrival of my books for the end of the week. Finally I will get to meet my book! I’ve seen it in stages obviously; firstly I wrote the thing, then I saw the proofs, then the front cover. But no-one had put it together at that stage, the complete item did not exist, and I am nearly incandescent with excitement at the thought of seeing the finished product. However as I’m writing this it’s just occurred to me that they didn’t say the end of which week. But it’s terribly exciting nonetheless.

Wisely and sensibly, I am also reserving a little bit of excitement for when the books actually arrive. This to me is one of the most exciting bits of the process. I don’t know how they will arrive, or what in, but I envisage some form of box with copies of Things He Never Knew inside. Multiple copies. Hundreds of neat, freshly-printed pages full of my words. A box packed with my books is one of the most exciting things in the world that I can think of. I’d better not get my hopes up too high though because I know full well that I’m only receiving ten. And ten copies is not a lot when you are desperate to get reviews somehow. I do run the risk of sending them out to publications to be reviewed and not seeing hide nor hair of them ever again. I must choose my targets carefully. Very luckily a few kind – and influential – people have already agreed to review it for me and funnily enough, I am nervous. It feels like raising a child: I have written and nurtured this book, gently shaped it bit by bit, made it into what it is, and the minute it’s released I’m handing it over to be judged by the world. Well, hopefully the world. It’ll be like watching a toddler taking their first, few shaky steps. I will be just as anxious. But as a fellow writer pointed out to me last night, “There’s nothing you can do. You’ve written it and now you have to let it go.” Sink or swim type of thing. Well, OK, fine, I appreciate that, but you can rest assured I will be giving it flotation devices and giving it a good shove in the right direction.

I seem to have won the battle about being allowed to use my computer during the day here in Berkshire. Or Paley Street, to be precise. There is new rule this time though, and that is we are not allowed to drink tea out of mugs. It has to be teacups. And saucers. The last time I was here John Lewis had delivered the wrong cups and my mother was moaning about having to drink “half a pint” of tea. This time round, the correct cups are here and mugs are banned which is annoying because now you only get a tablespoon of tea. It’s no wonder I drink so much wine; if you’re drinking alcohol in this house any vessel will do. I could probably drink from my shoe and no-one would bat an eyelid. Incidentally it would be the only thing I could use my shoes for because stupidly I brought suede, lilac pumps and it’s rained so much I can’t wear them.

So it is nice being here, apart from all the 19th century rules that are enforced. I have worked hard not to bow to these pressures, and establish myself as a strong-minded, independent woman who dares to use her computer when the rules of the house forbid it, and eat her peas without crushing them with a fork first; apparently the only way to eat peas in polite society. I learned this from witnessing an argument between my mother and one of my brothers who foolishly let slip that at school he eats his peas with a spoon. This oversight earned him a lecture and lesson in pea-eating.

But last night I was sitting on the sofa, drinking half a pint of tea from a mug and thinking that it’s a very strange state of affairs indeed when doing this causes me to feel subversive. This was after my mother had gone to bed, incidentally, I didn’t dare do it in front of her. I don’t push my boundaries that far.

Next time: more of the all-consuming excitement of having my books arrive, I imagine. Time for the real work to begin……..

A short missive from Berkshire

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This will only be a short post and actually I’m doing well to post it at all, because in direct contrast to last Sunday I find myself this week with almost no time to write. This is not because I am busy, in fact the direct opposite, but by staying at my mother’s house in Berkshire I have effectively moved back to the Dark Ages, with my mother being the enforcer of this. By Dark Ages I mean that things like watching television, using mobile phones and especially LAPTOPS are frowned upon. Anything involving modern technology is not popular in this household. If she could make us all go to bed when the sun goes down and use candles she would do. I got a new phone yesterday (pink Samsung Tocco Lite) and the only reason that I’ve been able to look at facebook, email, etc. is because she hasn’t realised yet that I can access the internet on it.

Despite this, I am managing to keep on top of the various publishing commitments that are arising; I have now seen a pdf file of the official promotion poster and I like it! It’s only tremendously exciting if you’re me, though. And there is one mistake on it which needs to be rectified which is unfortunate because they’ve all been printed already. The initial print run for my book looks like being around 1000 copies which seems quite a lot to me. I’m also not sure how they have arrived at this figure, especially seeing as the original number I was given was 500-600, but there must be a method.

I’m beginning to feel quite productive towards my next manuscript. It started well but I seem to have written myself into a dead end which, as any writer will know, is a nightmare. It usually requires a complete overhaul of the entire thing and possible restructuring. Unfortunately I know where I’m going wrong, and remedying it does indeed require many and various changes. Which is not really possible in this house where doing any writing has the guilty feel of an adulterous affair about it – snatched moments when I can sneak onto my computer and type a couple of sentences before my mother passes through the kitchen and says “What are you doing on there?”. Obviously the possibilities in her mind are endless. I’ve batted away any potential conflict quite swiftly so far with much talk of publishers and emails and deliberately asking her opinion on the various issues I’ve been dealing with, but I can see her getting suspicious before long.

Plus it’s very difficult to have the space and peace to be creative here. It’s a large house with quite a few rooms but each one seems to be occupied by one or more of my four brothers at any given time, not to mention my own children and the assortment of pets here. There are: two dogs, a handful of chickens, a tank of tropical fish, a tortoise and a pygmy hedgehog. This last is particularly annoying because it’s in a tank in the room that I’m sleeping in and for those of you not in the know about captive hedgehogs, they like to recreate their outdoor freedom by running fifteen miles a night – in a squeaky wheel. And I can tell you that listening to fifteen miles of squeaking per night becomes very tiresome.

But other than that, it’s quite peaceful here. The Aga is still switched on and therefore chucking out gallons of heat which is completely unnecessary, but at least the fire isn’t being lit every night. And there’s lots of wine to drink; that’s always appreciated. However, due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be attending the Burlesque night so there will be no talk of stockings I’m afraid. Well, I could talk about my own but I don’t think it would be the same.

Next time: to be confirmed!