So the proofs for Me and Mickie James have arrived. There was a loud banging at my door 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. I went downstairs and opened the door in my underpants.
“Funny place to have a door.”
Thank you, Ronnie Corbett. (I remember that joke clearly. Ronnie sitting in his black chair, pushing his thick glasses up.)
They are now sitting on my kitchen table. The proofs. Not my underpants. I am wearing them. They are orange and Polish if you are interested. From the websites I visit I know authors’ underpants are of some interest to the cognoscenti.
Beckett’s are currently the ones under closest scrutiny. Apparently he wore the same pair every day while writing ‘Waiting for Godot’.
When asked by a passing ‘sniffer’ if he would consider changing them he was overheard to remark.
“Are you absurd?”
I have to mark both copies, printer’s mistakes in red, mine in blue. I am currently about 6 - 2 ahead. It’s a bit embarrassing seeing the mistakes I have made. In future I will print out a copy.
Lesson number one.
In some other news not related to my Polish underpants Me and Mickie James is available for pre-order on Amazon. This is exciting. For a long time I didn’t believe it was real. Now it does. I keep going to look at it. Two books! I can’t believe it.
Just before my agent sent the manuscript out to publishers she asked me if I could write a bit of a blurb. I’m hopeless at this kind of thing. So I went upstairs picked four or so books I like off my shelves and took them downstairs.
I wanted to find a blurb I liked. Use that as a template.
As it happened Paddy Clarke Hahaha had the best one. I wrote mine in the same style; it only took a couple of minutes. Now that is the blurb going to be used and I have the same publisher as Roddy Doyle.
If I had a door in my underpants I’d open it.
1. Alasdair Gray is a writer I admire a lot. When 1982, Janine was published because it was so intricate he had it written into his contract that there would be six proof versions.
You are never bigger than your proofs.
2. Blake Morrison wrote an article in this week’s Guardian. It was about book sales. Before the whole Booker brouhaha Nicola Barker’s Darkmans had sold 449 copies, Mister Pip, 880.
Don’t buy the house in the Pyrenees until you have sold your proofs to the devil.
On the other side of the woods I am quite happy with The Penguin Variations. It is finally taking shape. It is book-shaped as it happens, which is a relief.
During the first edit I tidied it up, put it into 3 sections, and chapters. I made sure it made sense. As it is an absurd novel, it didn’t. Thank goodness.
I am now going over the whole thing more carefully. Last week I worked on chapter one. I edited it two or three times every day. It’s getting better. I’m enjoying it now, because sometimes it is painful.
Sometimes, a lot of the time, you think you are rubbish. You can’t understand what it is that other people could possibly ever think is good about you.
Other times it is better than that.
Other times it is like going downstairs and opening a door in your underpants. Behind this door is something that will make people very happy.