The problem with writers is we’re often an introverted lot. We don’t do communication without the buffer of the written word, preferably on paper so we don’t inadvertently get a glimpse of our own reflection in the screen’s glass and mistake it for another human being. At the same time, we’re ego-maniacs, poised to react to even the slightest slight. And, with such bi-polar natures, we’re somehow supposed to venture outside now and again, with the express purpose of promoting our books. Even those of us who have gone down the self-published route and can thus avoid the haranguing from our publisher.
So when Chella Ramanan proposed I take part in this year’s Taunton Literary Festival I started out all enthusiastic, got in touch with the organiser in Brendon Books, put my name down for a table in the Self-Published section.
Time passed. Inevitably my feet got colder. Even so, I contacted the organiser again, confirmed details. Yes, it’s at Richard Huish College, 2nd November 2013, 2 pm til 5.
Then the excuses started. Richard Huish College. Isn’t that a little bit out of the way? People would, like, have to go there. I mean ‘out of the way’ go there? Won’t that put most people off? And books. Yes, I have to have some books there for people to buy, or what’s the point? That means ordering them. It means commitment. It means, if I go to all the trouble of purchasing some stock then I really have to do it.
Sit at a table while people walk in, look round.
See me sitting there.
With my books.
And maybe ask me questions.
‘How do you write a book then, Martine?’
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
‘Is it easy?’
Writing just happens, doesn’t it? Well, okay, there’s a bit more to it than that. Quite a lot more, really, when I think about it. So… does the askee expect the aforementioned two word answer, or the more involved two hour one?
See? It’s difficult. It could be either or neither and are they really that interested? I doubt it. Much easier if I whimp out and fein a broken leg or something.
‘Sorry, can’t make it this time. Hand fell off.’
Yeah, but then there’s Paul Tobin. I promised him I’d take part in the Q&A on self-publishing afterwards. Nice of him to ask. Probably be alright. As long as no one asks me how to write books or self-publish them, we’re golden.
So I guess I’m going. If you manage to get there on the 2nd November – Richard Huish College, remember – long walk, comfortable shoes – look for the writer in the corner who’s trying to disappear into the shadows. That’s most likely me.
Be kind. I’m one of those fragile writerly types, butterfly-wing ego ready to crumble to dust at any moment.