It’s a funny old existence, being a writer of novels. You spend half your year, maybe more, maybe less, shuffling around the house in ‘comfy clothes’ (manky old pj bottoms, odd socks, coffee-stained tees) racking your ravished little mind for some spark of creativity you might be able to bully into a marvellous sentence if you’re lucky, or maybe just an intelligible one if you’ve already lost the will. And then all of a sudden, it’s done… you have a manuscript, and mostly it makes sense, and before you know it, it’s edited and smartened up and out of your hands, free from the shadows of that grotesquely messy garret you’ve been confined to while the rest of the world carried on having regular sleep and showers and meals and fresh air and snogs.
So yesterday, rested and scrubbed up and still chilling in the afterweeks of a recently released novel, I waved a hasty goodbye to my favourite ankle-biter, took a deep breath of I’m-out-of-the-house-and-doing-something-grown-upness and headed off down to London for lunch with my agent Madeleine Milburn and new soon-to-be-frustrated editor, Anna Baggaley from Harlequin/Harper Collins.
We yacked away about the next two contracts Anna’s just having drafted up for me (eep!) and which I’m completely frothy-headed with relief and excitement and gratitude to have been offered. Then over a pretty badass goat’s cheese salad I gabbled off my ideas for book 4 (latest ideas I should say… the first plot outlines I sent off were a bit naff) and, hoo-bloody-rah, everyone seemed to be enthused!
‘Book 4 is going to be so topical!’ said someone. ‘And your feelings about these issues will show through your writing!’
‘Yes!’ I agreed. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am feeling PUMPED, because this is that stage of writing a book, when your ideas are shiny and new and the mountain to climb ahead, whilst big and slightly intimidating, looks more of a jolly old adventure than a spirit-breaking endeavour that just may kill you.
Yes! I thought, book 4 is going to be relevant and funny and thought-provoking and impassioned because I do feel strongly about the issues I’m going to be writing about and I do want to do my characters’ stories justice and I DO want to become a better and betterer writer who can feel chuffed to death with myself once I’ve made it to the other side of that big-assed mountain! I am gonna write the shizzle outta Book 4 and…
…and then the dessert menu landed and it all became about chocolatey pancakes and caramelised bananas.
So anyway, that’s a little snippet of my very lovely day. A sniffter of the other side of writing. The side where you get to leave your writing room and wang on a bit of mascara and feel quite groovy trundling along the streets of London to meet the professionals who’ve got your back and are going to kit you out in the best crampons they can for the adventure ahead.
Didn’t manage to shake off my comfy shoes, mind…