When I was twelve I wrote the lyrics for a song which began with the line above. Let’s just say it together, atmospherically:
Hush…. There’s a deathly hush all around….
Oh, it was a classic. A few lines later it went “There’s gonna be a riot if it stays this quiet…” I mean, I was destined to be a writer!
Riot and quiet? Bless you, my little love. Bless you.
Anyway. That’s sort of how it felt when I woke up this morning. There was a deathly hush all around. An eerie stillness broken only by an unseen finger that poked at my large eye-bags, my exhausted brain and the weird feral twitch I’ve developed in my right eye, whispering some evil shit about today being judgement day and how I can’t escape now; there’s nowhere for me to hide – that kind of stuff.
I lay uneasily in my bed, trying to work out what was going on. The last time I had this feeling I went off to go and sit my final final, which must have been a good eleven years ago. I’m old now, see.
I couldn’t for the life of me work out what was happening today that was so important. But then it landed. Oh, it landed. No insidious caresses from wispy, ghost-like fingers. No sir. What happened next was a forceful punch in the face. (It wasn’t The Man, although if he did I wouldn’t blame him – I’ve been foul recently.)
It was this knowledge: MY BOOK COMES OUT TODAY.
It is released to the world. The process by which I discover if I am an abysmal failure as a novelist has begun. I can run off and hide if I want but that won’t change a thing – the book is now out of my hands and in yours. Argghhhh! FECKLOADS OF EXPLETIVES! SUDDEN SPRINTS TO THE BATHROOM!
It’s funny; I always presumed that I’d wake up on pub date (this is what the kool katz in the industry cool it, from what I can discern) punching the air and cartwheeling across the kitchen, landing with a joyous splash into my celebratory bowl of gluten-free muesli. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d be nervous. And I guess that’s because somewhere along the line I’d forgotten that I don’t get to decide whether or not I’m going to be a novelist: you do. You, the book-buying public. I’ve bought one copy of my book because that will hopefully make me look really popular n stuff, but really I have no control whatsoever over whether or not people buy and like my books.
As a rampant control freak I have to say that troubles me. I want to be a writer! I want to do this for a living! And yet you get to decide! It’s sort of like the X-Factor only I am currently clothed in a pair of Gap pyjama bottoms with a now off-white Care Bear t-shirt. There is not a glamorous X-Factor dress in sight, let alone a team of make-up artists, hair stylists and other people to make me at least look fabulous, even if I turn out to be a talentless wazzock.
But what can I do. As I said, it’s out of my hands. I am going to sit with Jon Kabat-Zin, my new spiritual advisor, and meditate for half an hour, and then I’m going to go to Penguin for some breakfast and round one of radio interviews. I should just enjoy it, really. I’m just a passenger now.
ARRGHHHH! (again.) Right, Kabat-Zin, meditate me up. Immediately. I need to calm down.