Recently, I have had a few opportunities to tell some interested people – real life, clever, mostly bookish people – about the fact that my debut novel is being published next month in the U.S. and Canada, and in the UK and Ireland next February. These have included a friendly bookseller, who spotted a fellow children’s lit enthusiast at ten paces, and some truly lovely folk at a birthday party who couldn’t have been more enthusiastic to know everything about the world of publishing.
But something very odd has been happening to me, every time I get a chance to publicly mention my book, my writing career, and my publication dates. I get stumble-locked.
My tongue becomes like the paddle of an oar in my mouth. I cannot word. I forget, on the spot, what my book’s about, what my name is, how polite conversation works. I find myself saying things like ‘Oh well I know it sounds so terribly up-my-own-fundement but… yes, I’m an author,’ or apologising for the fact that I’ve got an agent and book deals either side of the Atlantic or for the fact that I dare to live and breathe at all.
I really don’t know why I do this. Is it because I’m Irish? But I know many fine Irish writers who aren’t bumbling clods when it comes to their profession. Perhaps because I’m a woman? But then, similarly, many of the writers I know are also women and can own their space with confidence. Maybe it’s just because I am me, and I’m not yet published, and it all seems so nebulous, and – frankly – the reality of this whole thing is a little terrifying, and I’ve never really been good at talking about myself unless I’m making fun of my own existence anyway.
But I come away from each encounter feeling defeated, like I have insulted the other person’s interest in me by basically saying ‘Oh, haha, why would you be bothered with me? Not at all, there are other people who are loads better and it’s not that much of an achievement, what I’ve done, blah-di-blah…’
But that’s a bit silly, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.
I’ve always been better with the written word. Me and speaking can turn into somewhat of a mess, unless I am (for whatever reason) feeling totally in charge of my material.
So here’s the thing.
Thanks so much to everyone I’ve spoken to over the last few days who cared enough to ask about the book.
Yes, it’s a children’s book. But you know what? They’re harder to get right than almost any other kind of book.
It sure is cool that I got a pair of two-book deals, my friend. Yes, it sure is.
And of course it doesn’t sound pretentious to talk about having agents, editors and publishers. Nobody else gets in a muddle talking about their managers, do they? Well, then.
Now. That’s sorted. If you see me in the flesh and I babble at you in a self-effacing way, I apologise in advance and direct you back to this blog post. Meanwhile I will do my best to ‘own it’ (girlfriend, werq, hip-popping and all), and stop being such a nincompoop. Success, as ever, is far from guaranteed.