2013 has been odd. Mainly because I have so far spent it feeling very much like a bacon-flavoured corn snack.
In January, my lovely editor came back from a year’s secondment and noticed that my next book had a title and a cover and a pub date of July, but no actual words. THIS IS NOT USUAL, NON-WRITER FRIENDS. (Writer-friends, I see you looking at me, all anxious.)
Luckily I grew up watching Sarah Greene make macaroni cheese, so there were words that I had prepared earlier. My lovely editor sent back her editorial in less than 48 hours. THIS IS NOT USUAL, NON-WRITER FRIENDS. (Writer-friends, I see you looking at me anew with envy, and pitchforks.)
Then there was a 3-week turnaround for my rewrites (one week of which I spent in bed with flu, one on rearranging huge chunks of plot, only to put them all back where they were before I started; what larks) – followed by a lot of terror and no sleeping. (Writer-friends: prayer circle, group hug.)
7 days later the copyedit was done, checked, off to production. THIS IS BEYOND NOT USUAL, NON-WRITER FRIENDS.
It was a strange rollercoaster. I mainly wanted to shut my eyes until I got to the end, though that is well-known to be rubbish for typing. But – in addition to being awestruck by the collective amazingness of Ruth and Sophie, heroic editor and copyeditor – I am proper chuffed at having managed to not royally stuff up my bit, and even, I think, to have a written a book that is, hopefully, a bit good.
‘Hopefully a bit good.’ Bet they put that on the cover.
By the end I was, however, basically a crisp. I was crunchy and dessicated. I had no nutritional value. All my things had been used up.
Happily, what I did have next was time. A To Be Read pile. Liberty, and Lovefilm. Let the mental hydration commence!
Now: I’m reading The Difference Between You & Me and Scarlett Thomas’ Monkeys With Typewriters. I’m going to the cinema to see Broken City (so awful) and Broken (overwhelmingly great to the point where I had to sit on a wall for a bit quivering before I could walk home): do not confuse. I’m baking bread, and chocolate chip muffins, and have become weirdly obsessed with the texture of broccoli in soup. I’m sleeping.
I’m still a touch crispy round the edges, I’ll grant you. But I am gradually returning to human, upright form.
Recharging means I now want to blog about the Scarlett Thomas book and writing manuals and when/why they might work best with maybe a survey and polls and science. I want to wonder out loud about what it means for YA writers if most of YA readers aren’t YAs, and if that will/should make any difference, with reference to ‘kidults’ and Ant and Dec being #1. I want to write an essay about why Speed is the last great action movie, with reference to 1980s constructions of hypermasculinity as drag/comfort with the absurd versus po-faced spendiness, with a long footnote about how totally horrible Taken is. (In Road House, Patrick Swayze nearly kills a man with a STUFFED POLAR BEAR. Liam Neeson is never going to do that.)
I love writing books, but I’ve missed wanting to write those things too; having spare brain to think about those things too.
I’m not going to write them next, though. I’m going to write… well. We’ll see.