Monday, 31 August 2009

The Future Begins Here

I start my new career tomorrow.


In other news, I have decided to stop whingeing about my writing career, after a few conversations which went something along the lines of...

- How are you?

- Oh well, you know, my life is a disaster, I'm a failure...

- How so?

- Well, I got published in a foreign country, and it's all really awful...

- But you got published?

- Well yes, but it's all in foreign, and...

- But people can still read it?

- Yes, but I have no money and I have a baby and now I have to go and start a completely new career and I won't have any time to write at all and I'll have to give it up...

- Forever? You're saying you'll never have time to write anything, ever, in your whole life?

- Well, I can probably start again in a year or two, but I failed to make a living out of writing, and yadda yadda money... numbers of book sales...

- Is that why you write? To make money and sell thousands of books?

- Well no, but if you want to do it full time you have to make a living out of it, and...

- But don't most creative people have to make money via other avenues? Isn't it better to do it for fun? Doesn't it ruin it to try and make money from it? Isn't it a bit arrogant to assume you ought to make a living from it?

- Er...

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Behind me in the queue at Netto, I heard a voice...

"Oh come on, some of us have got things to do."

I assumed he was referring to the woman in front of me, who was having some kind of issue with her receipt.

Then another voice chipped in:

"It's not my fault, it's that Kevin, he's always doing it."

OK... so it's nothing to do with the woman in front. It's two people having a conversation with each other.

The conversation continued - the first guy complaining about various stuff, the second guy making various justifications.

After I'd packed my bags and was leaving anyway, it was easier to turn round and look at them both. By now I was intrigued.

They were both on mobile phones. They weren't talking to the woman in front. They weren't even talking to each other.


Friday, 7 August 2009


I just found a pile of unopened mail which must have got buried under a load of crap when my other half cleaned the kitchen while I was away cycling with my son...

...and in amongst it was a royalty statement, dated 30.6.09, which is only three weeks after the foreign edition of my book was published... and after a bit of head-scratching over what any of it meant (cos it's mostly in foreign, and they do weird things with their decimal points and their commas)... according to the statement, at that point 3,186 copies had been sold! Eh?

Of course then I remembered what happened with my first book, which apparently earnt out its advance in the first 6 months and I got paid £43... only to get a negative statement 6 months later, when the bookshops returned all those unsold copies. So it might just be that 3,186 copies of the book have been sent out to bookshops. Who might not have sold any at all. Certainly it's not doing well on Amazon.

But still. It's kind of good news. I think. 3,186 copies! My first book only had a print run of 3,000 and sold less than a third of that.

for the benefit of rss and feeds and all that

I'm never quite sure how the feed stuff works, but just in case you don't get told when an existing post is updated... I just updated the previous post. So much so that you may as well call it a new post. Cos it's got, like, millions of new words in it an' everything.



Go back and read it again.

Cos it's different.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Beat This

Hmm. I haven't time to write a new blog post, but I didn't like the fact that this post was sitting at the top of my blog in its current form, so I've decided to edit it.

It started off like this:

"This made me cry, several times. In a good way. It's great."

...followed by this:

...and then I wrote this: "I got it from a new blog I discovered today called Vacant Wind. I like."

...which was true.

So why didn't I like it being here at the top? Two reasons, I think. No, three. And I reserve the right to come up with more as I go along. The first was that I'm not a big fan of blog posts which contain minimal original content and are mostly just links or references to stuff done elsewhere by others. So. Well. Here you go. I'm adding some original content, innit? Although not making any claims as to its quality. But anyway, moving swiftly on...

The second reason is almost the same as the first, but not quite... it's some kind of anti-sheep thing, I think. I baulk slightly at the idea of being identified as a fan. A fan of anything, I suppose, but particularly anything really really popular. Except that... I also get really annoyed by people being sniffy about stuff, just cos millions of other people like it too. Like when people refused to read Harry Potter purely on the basis that everyone else was reading it. Fine if you read it and then decide you don't like it, but sometimes, you know, when things are popular? It's cos they're good. So, um, I seem to have argued against myself on that one. Oh. Hmmm. No. Maybe I haven't. Because the point is that I don't tend to be a MASSIVE FAN of anything much, cos it seems to require suspending critical faculties. But I also don't like people taking against things purely because they're popular. Yes, that's it. But anyway, I was never a massive MJ fan. You know, I thought he was all right, and now that his best stuff is being aired all at once I realise he was really rather good, but the reason I posted that vid was nothing to do with being a Jackson fan or not. And that's not why I cried, either. And neither did I cry cos he's dead. It was the togetherness of it that made me cry. Lots of people, doing stuff together and making each other smile. People doing what people do best, which is cooperating. Entertaining. Making something bigger than the sum of its parts. And there were kids involved. People doing stuff together in large numbers, particularly spontaneous stuff... often makes my eyes water. But if there are kids involved? Sob city. But in a nice way. I have been known to go to other people's kids' nativity plays, just so I can do happy-sobbing. I guess I'm weird like that.

But anyway... the third reason of not liking the MJ vid staring me in the face every time I logged onto my own blog (not that I'm forever reading my own blog, just that I use it as an easy way of checking which of my favourite blogs have been updated)... the third reason was, that he may well have been a great musician and even though I wouldn't have called myself A FAN I still thought he was pretty talented and all that, BUT he was probably, almost certainly, a child abuser. And that's about the worst thing anyone could be, I reckon. And I didn't want anyone to think I was even slightly condoning that, in any way at all. Which I doubt anyone did. But, you know. In case you did. I don't.

Glad we got that cleared up. Now, where was I...

[wanders off with giant to-do list trailing behind her]

Then Again...

You could of course say that the reason my book hasn't been published in English is cos it's rubbish. It's a possibility. Or it could be the economy. Or maybe my agent was rubbish. Who knows? I certainly don't. But look at the lovely packaging!

I Have a Dream

So there I was, all miserable and Down With Writing and I'm Not Going To Be A Writer Any More Cos It's Rubbish, and Nobody Can Read My Book And I Don't Care, and then I went on holiday and had a nice time and my lovely not-quite-aunt was all nice to me and made me feel good about myself and I started thinking, maybe...

It's a dangerous word, I've been caught out before. I start out with maybe. I move on to a few perhapses, then a sprinkling of what-ifs, and before you know it I've got another Grand Plan. They start out small, and then get bigger...

It's like pushing a snowball uphill. I heave and I heave, and it gathers more material, and we get close to the top of the hill... and then two things are possible. I might stop to look at the view and get distracted while the plan goes over the top and down the other side. Sometimes I watch in dismay as it destroys itself and everything in its path. Sometimes I remain distracted and never find out what happened to it, wandering off in a different direction instead. But sometimes I find a little dip at the top of the hill, and roll it in. Then I surround it with smaller snowballs or pebbles, or maybe shore it up with sticks. I use fridges to keep it cool, and I start building it higher, making a face with lumps of coal or turning it into a giant snow tower. Finally I have something I'm happy with, sitting up there all nice with a spectacular view.

Anyway. What I thought was, it's a shame my book can't be read in English. There are plenty of people who want to read it. And maybe, in the tiny bit of time that's left before New Career, I could whack the book up on, give it a basic cover, and produce something basic for people to read? Just so they can?

But then I thought... if I did that, it would look pretty rubbish. And Lulu books in general, although handy for some purposes, are not the greatest quality. The covers are low-grade card and have a habit of curling, and there are often errors in production. So perhaps... I could create separate dust covers, on good quality paper... yeah, and I could make them really snazzy, with holes in strategic places to reveal the Lulu cover beneath in imaginative fashion, and I could wrap them in magic ribbon... cos the book is about the way magicians convince people of silly things... I could say that if you stroke the ribbon you'll become telepathic... because after all, if I'm going to produce the book myself, why not go to town? Why make something shoddy? But if I really went for it I'd have to have a proper book launch, cos it'd be a waste not to...

Hmmm, but this will take time and effort and money wot I haven't got... but to hell with it! Why not go All Out and make something really special! Why be in a rush? Wouldn't it be a shame to create something crap? Doesn't my book deserve more than that?

One of the problems with Being Published is that you have little say in what goes on. This makes sense to some extent: Marketing, cover design, typesetting etc, are all skilled areas which the author probably knows fuck all about. But you're also in competition with all those other thousands of writers, and it can be frustrating when your book doesn't get the attention or resources you think it deserves.

But... given that I've abandoned the idea of making a living from writing... and I'll soon have a proper income again... more than I need, in fact... why not put proper time and effort - and money - into producing a beautiful thing? Why not forget any notions of money-making or High Sales and focus instead on giving an enjoyable aesthetic experience to a small amount of people? Just for the hell of it? Selling thousands of copies is important if you're trying to make a living, and if you want Big Fame. But beyond that, what's the point? You can't get meaningful feedback from a high number of readers. The worry about sales figures bites deep into the fun and satisfaction of writing in the first place. Wouldn't it be better to forget all that and focus instead on making something lovely?

What if I set up a website called, somewhere people could come to help each other make Wonderful Things, with no attempt or expectation to make any money at all - indeed, with the assumption that it will cost them time, money and energy? Just because they can?

The ball was gathering so much snow, I was struggling to reach the hilltop. This website,, would take a lot of maintenance. It might become a draw for all those people so desperate to be published that they've lost sight of how to monitor the quality of their output, and would get pretty headachey very fast...

OK, let the snowball melt a little... go back to the core...

...which is the following two ideas:

(1) I wrote a book, I put a lot of effort into it, significant numbers of editors and agents liked it, it did get published after all (albeit in a foreign tongue)... and I think it's rather good. And I'd like it to be accessible, to people who speak my language. People I know.

(2) If I do it, I do it properly. It won't get big bucks spent on it by anyone else. The only chance it has of being beautifully packaged is if I do it. And why short-change it? If I'm in control of the process, why not make the most of it?

So, here's the plan: Over the next year or two, I'll design a beautiful object. I'll need help. I might have to pay people. But the priority will be on Making A Lovely Thing. And then when it's ready (in one year? two? who knows) I'll have two massive parties, just like I did for my first book. One in my home city and one in London. I'll tell everyone. I'll sell a few copies. I'll enjoy seeing them in people's hands. I'll make a massive loss, but I'll go to bed happy.

Will I reach the top of the hill? Will the snowball fall backwards and squash me flat, go careering in the wrong direction with my hands, feet and chin protruding at comic angles, dump me broken in a ditch with nothing to do but wait for it to melt? Will it go nowhere much at all; disintegrate on the first sunny day?

Fuck knows. But it's a nice little dream to smile about at bedtime.

That's enough for now.

(Then again...)


UpDown With Spam

I have a few short days of children-in-childcare left before some FullTimeMumitude, which will be followed by The New Career and busy-busy-busyness, so I'm trying to clear the decks and remove all commitments.

One small part of this is to reduce the volume of spam that lands in my inbox, so I don't have to delete it every day. I've done this by disabling the email address that gets the scam / penis-enhancing / weightloss-product rubbish, and then wading through all the unsolicited "newsletters" from people who once sold me some widget or other and clicking "unsubscribe". This in itself is a bit of a revelation: Every single one of these emails had a tiny-print unsubscribe link hidden somewhere within them, and they have all promised faithfully to remove me from their mailing lists. Whether they do or not will become evident in the next few days, but if they act on their word... who knew it was so easy! I should have done it months ago. Except...

Now I have no emails. None at all.

I feel lonely.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Thankyou for buying Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex.

Now. There was a time when skies were blue and grass was green and I had a snuggly thing called my smelling nightie, and I couldn't sleep without it wrapped around my nose, and sometimes it smelt of bacon, and... oh, sorry. Start again. There was a time when I had lovely plans to make all clever and fancy and get it to automagically tell you how many copies had been sold... but then my son got ill and my bones got tired and... whatever. I'm just not that clever, OK?

So please please please leave a comment below to tell the world that you have bought a book / some books. And then jump up and down and go on about how excited you are and how you can't wait and how you are running off now to tell all your friends to buy my book.

You can miss that last bit out if you want.

Feel free to be anonymous.


(NB if you are seeing this post via some kind of fancy rss wotsit, please ignore. This is for people who buy my book via, from 5th August onwards)