Monday, 21 April 2008
A lot of the writer's life gets documented in the 'highs and lows' style: slaving away over a hot computer for hour after lonely hour, followed by the weirdness of attending your own launch event, and the absolute wonder of maybe being lucky enough to get a good review. The highs and lows I can deal with. It's the bit in the middle I have trouble with.
I've just finished writing a novel. I've just finished the publicity drive associated with having a novel released. I've decided these are two lulls in activity that should never occur at the same time, for the sake of the writer's sanity. I officially have nothing to think about. Nobody is contacting me, asking me to hurry up to meet a deadline. Nobody wants me to do an interview on local radio (although last time I did I was between two interesting guests - a guide dog and a man who had eaten a human testicle: verdict was salty, so maybe that's not a bad thing really...). No characters are clamouring for attention in my head. I don't know how many copies I've sold or how many words I've got to go. There's no shape to my life.
Bring back the problem of wrestling with a literary conundrum or the thrill of checking the proof. I'm going spare over here, and for some reason I can't just throw myself into the next book. Why must I have this blank period of time? What should I do with myself?
Q: When is a writer not a writer?
A: When nobody, not even a character, is paying attention to them.
Maybe, in my case, the characters are also the audience. Ooh, deep.