After two and a half years of slaving away at my latest novel, it is now, at long last, available on Amazon! (Please forgive the surfeit of exclamations and hyperbole in this post.) I’m sure that all fellow-writers will empathise with the blood, sweat and tears that go into the planning, creating, first draft, and multiple revisions of a novel. Correct?
So do I feel euphoric right now? Not quite. Do I feel excited? Well, obviously. Do I feel scared? Oh, yes! That most of all. It’s a competitive world out there. I can’t remember the exact statistics that were quoted at a writers’ conference I attended last June, about how many new books are published every year. Suffice it to say it was a HUGE NUMBER. Tens of thousands, at least. Or was it hundreds of thousands? All I remember is that when I digested that nasty little piece of data as I skulked on my back row seat in the auditorium, I felt like giving up. What’s the bloody point, I thought.
But before I go any further, I want to tell you a story. No, wait – don’t switch off yet! It’s a nice story, honest! And a true one.
There was once a little girl who was very shy and quite freckly, with a gap between her front teeth that would be straightened out in later years. When she was six years old she wrote her first story, not for her teacher, but for herself. She bound the pages in coloured cardboard and cellotaped them together and felt like a real grown-up author. And she smiled her cute goofy smile. When she was seven she wrote another, slightly longer story, with the same type of binding. These stories continued over the years, becoming longer, the books fatter, the content more varied, until eventually she started showing them to her teachers. ‘You’ll be a writer one day!’ each teacher proclaimed, year in, year out. Her stories were read aloud in class; one was made into a play and performed for parents, and the shy little girl – no longer quite so little, now that her boobs and hips were developing – became more and more convinced that this was her life’s goal. In seventh grade, she presented her young and fit English teacher (she had a raging crush on him, but that’s beside the point) with her latest work, a science fiction novella. When he read it, he wrote on the back page: ‘Reach for the stars, Wendy, the world is waiting for you!’
Oops! I just gave away that the little girl was me. But you’d probably already worked that one out, not being cursed by the same gormless genes that were prevalent at my own creation.
I could go on and on with that story, detailing how over the years the little girl, by now a young adult with nice teeth and boobs that actually filled a proper bra rather than a pretend one, and not quite so many freckles (though they’re still there, if you look closely) went on to write proper novels, in keeping with her proper bras … and how, by her mid-twenties, she reckoned that it was about time she started thinking of publication. So, out the manuscripts were sent – in the earlier years by post, in later years by email, to various agents and publishers … and eventually she succeeded in signing up with an agent – no, three agents – over a period of twenty years. But here’s the thing. The sad bit.
Each time round, like a curse in a grim fairy tale, it somehow just didn’t work out with the wretched Literary Blood-suckers from Hell. They let the poor woman down again and again and a-bloody-gain. It was all very, very sad, but very, very true.
And here’s another thing. The scary bit. In the same way that I was dependent upon literary agents, now the futures of my novels’ protagonists is dependent upon my readers. Which includes you, fellow bloggers. Isn’t that a gargantuan responsibility? Doesn’t it make you quake in fear? It damn well should do! The future of my star-crossed lovers, Naomi and John Paul, lies entirely in your hands.
So, if you want my two leading characters to become real people who will reside forever in the wonderful realm of literature, enjoying adoration and great reviews – as well as gossip behind their backs and mean reviews – then you need to download my novel and read it. You need to give my characters life outside their Creator’s head. You need to allow Naomi’s outrageous spirit to live forever; you need to let John Paul finally come out of his malaise caused by the traumatic memories of the genocide he witnessed as an adolescent … you need to let other, future readers still be talking and nattering about them – the voluptuous, sexy Naomi and her handsome but forbidding John Paul – in centuries to come!
However, there are some categories of reader who I am not quite so sure should be in possession of my novel. These include the following.
- Parents at the international school where I work. Might they be horrified by the sexual content? Could they sue me for exposing their poor innocent little children to it? Okay, so I’ll warn them that this book is not for children.
- My Rwandan friends and followers on Twitter. Might they be offended that a hot, giggly Liverpudlian lass like Naomi Lieberman should fall for a serious Rwandan guy who experienced one of the worst atrocities of recent history? Ok, so I’ll have to convince them that Naomi really does develop throughout the story.
- President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Might he be offended that I only gave him a cameo part in my novel – in fact, just a tweet – rather than the male lead role of the smouldering John Paul Chambers?
Then there are my friends, ex-husbands and lovers. Might they mind anything? No, I don’t think so. I reckon I should be safe with them. In fact, my first ex-husband has already ordered a Kindle copy of my novel, and my second ex has made me promise to send him a hard copy once the printed version is available. (Truth is, he only wants to get into Naomi’s knickers again.)
But anyway, enough of that. Here’s the happy conclusion to my story.
That freckly little girl ended up, many, many years later, writing a sizzling romance with disguised depth, which would end up being published on Amazon and selling zillions of copies and getting snapped up by a Hollywood producer and made into a box office hit, with Emilia Clarke starring as Naomi Lieberman and a younger version of Idris Alba as John Paul Chambers, and … Oh, wait – hang on, that hasn’t happened yet! There I go again with my exclamation marks and hyperbolic verbosity. I like that word: hyperbolic. It half-rhymes with bollocks, which is another terrific word.
So, fellow-bloggers and readers … will Naomi and John Paul live on into the distant future, the eternal world of literature?
Only time will tell, in collusion with the gods – who, in this case, are all of you guys out there!