Once upon a time there was a certain trio of books… and over the course of more time there was a film… and the number fifty stopped meaning half of one hundred, or the age where you throw a big party and smile and all the time you’re thinking, OMG I am older than my mother was when I was a teenager and thought that everyone in my parents’ generation were dinosaurs at best.
Nowadays, the word ‘Fifty’ means ‘complicated shades of meaning’. In a couple of weeks I’ll be celebrating 18 months as a published author; it was the dream of a lifetime (we won’t say ‘Fifty’ here) – but how does the dream compare with reality? That’s complicated too, and it’s difficult to judge because there are at least…
Fifty Shades of Being Published…
1. You love it.
2. It terrifies the life out of you.
3. You meet some really great people (and a couple you avoid thereafter).
4. You ‘meet’ literally hundreds of great people (and several you avoid like the plague thereafter).
5. You own a kindle.
6. There are at least three books by your old favourite writers that you can’t wait to read but there are just Not. Enough. Hours. in your day now.
7. You discover dozens of new great writers and despair of ever having enough time to read them all.
8. You learn new words like ‘Algorithm’.
9. After a while you can say them without stuttering.
10. The answer to 90% of questions beginning ‘Where did you…’ is: Twitter.
11. You find yourself going on what your accountant calls ‘business trips’.
12. And you realise that they are actually business trips because you wouldn’t have made them otherwise so although you did meet some family and friends too the trips were, yes – business.
13. In the wake of this you receive promo emails from six different airlines.
14. You learn to smile vaguely and say ‘Fine, thanks’ when people ask how sales are going because you don’t get figures until nine months after the start of the previous half year so you really have no idea how sales are going right this minute.
15. Which doesn’t matter anyway because the income generated from book sales is in no relation whatsoever to the time, blood, sweat, tears and joy you expend creating your books.
16. Not to mention the hard cash you expend promoting them.
17. So you still have a day job, and your students start leaving you messages on your Facebook Page when they can’t come to class.
18. This is very sensible because you see them straightaway.
19. You are amazed at the generosity of the strangers you ‘meet’ on social media.
20. But they soon stop being strangers and you realise that like ‘Fifty’, the word ‘Friend’ has a different meaning now.
21. The words ‘my book’ have taken on a whole new meaning too.
22. A ‘free day’ means that you sit at your computer writing (etcetera etcetera) from
7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
23. A ‘good day’ means that you spend more time on the writing part than on the etceteras.
24. A ‘day off’ is something that last happened a year and a half ago.
25. And after 18 months of carefully preserving your children’s anonymity and privacy on social media, you receive a postcard signed ‘Son number two’.
To be continued.