Wednesday, 23 January 2008
I can sympathise with writers who find out that being published is not the greatest thing in the universe. Nothing is the greatest thing in the universe. There's no experience which can make life worth living, even the ones you were aiming towards since you could think. Personally, I'm with Peter Cook. It's much better to set your sights far too high, and to move your goalposts every time you get near to your perceived achievement. Then you never realise your potential. You leave it glimmering on the horizon, and there's always a reason to face the east and smile every morning.
Anyhoo, I wanted to talk about what is great about being published. And my favourite thing at the moment is The Escalator. This is the conversation I have at parties when I tell strangers that I'm a writer. The Escalator is a series of steps they take towards the plateau which makes me unutterably cool in their eyes, at least for a few moments:
Them: So what do you do?
Me: I'm a writer.
Them: You mean a technical writer? Is the money good in that?
Me: No, I'm a writer writer. Novels. Short stories.
Them: Well done you! You keep going with that! I bet you'll even get published one of these days.
Me: I am published.
Them: Self published?
Me: No. Published published.
Them: Good for you! That's brilliant! I bet one of these days a really big proper publisher will publish one of your books! What's the name of your publisher?
Them: I've heard of them...
Them: Wow. Yes. That's really brilliant! Keep going and one of these days you'll even be on the shelves in Waterstones!
Me: I am on the shelves in Waterstones.
Them: Holy crap.
Then there's a silence, and then they ask me what my next book is about, and they promise to buy a copy, and usually I write my name down on a napkin, and off we go to the next topic, such as global warming or Eastenders. But I do love The Escalator. It's just like being six again and travelling to Exeter just to ride those magic stairs at Debenhams again and again. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.