Four Years Ago
It’s been four years since I last published a book (The English Stories, Biblioasis 2009), and I’d forgotten — or perhaps deliberately crushed the memory — that during the run-up to a new book’s appearance the writer ceases to be a writer.
To sit for an hour staring at a blank screen or empty sheet of paper is no longer possible. There isn’t time. To spend another hour typing and erasing one sentence, modifying and retyping and moving those seventeen words up the page and down and up again — not allowed. Also verboten is to leave the room that contains the screen or page, leave in order to walk for an hour along busy streets or in the park’s greenness while considering imaginary people and their mostly reprehensible actions.
Instead, there are lists.
- Lists of people to whom information about the book must be sent.
- Lists of publications, print and online, ditto.
- Lists of organizations, groups, communes, collectives, covens, ditto. All want a headshot and different lengths of bio, and their websites all have operational peculiarities.
- Lists of friends whom you have already prevailed upon to help you publicize the book and whom you’re going to ask, again, to do so.
- Lists of possible birthday presents for an eccentric grandchild — oops, no time for that now!
- Lists of things to do for the book launch.
- Lists of possible refreshments (given the venue’s insistence that zero home-prepared food may cross the building’s threshold).
- Lists of people you feel would review the book favourably.
- Another, longer list of people to whom no review copy should be sent.
In my stories I do use lists, sometimes imagining fondly that I’m being Homeric. In fictional form, I like lists. In the forms spawned by the business end of the writing biz, I ungratefully do not — but I see that I have created one here.