Well, actually, I am, but at least I managed to write a book at the same time.
Publication day has long been a date to focus on; a distant point up to which I can maintain the excitement of Being A Writer without reality kicking in. After tomorrow, will the excitement falter in the face of smirky questions about how many copies I've sold? (Erm... I'm not sure ... I, erm... haven't had any sales figures yet.) Will my Amazon ranking obsession intensify as it plummets into the millions? (Millions? That's an idea - maybe I could tell people it means the number of sales!)
As Rebecca Connell said when her book came out last month, publication day is no huge explosion. Because, well, what can possibly happen? Crowds of paparazzi at the door? Broadsheets festooned with glowing reviews? Bouquets arriving from secret admirers?
The launch of a book is not so much a sudden event as a process. Like... er... death. Thinking about it, that might not be the ideal comparison, so let's move on... Instead of a fixed date with people queueing up at midnight outside bookshops, the average publication trickles gradually into the world. My book already exists – not just in the sense that it wormed into my imagination ten years ago, or that it took up thousands of hours of writing, re-writing, editing and honing – I mean that now it exists in a physical, aesthetically pleasing form. My author copies are just across the room from me as I type.
When other writers receive their author copies, they stroke them, kiss them, put them under the pillow, even compare the experience to holding their baby for the first time. I don't feel like that at all. I took a quick look at my books and thought “phew, they look great,” then I went about other things. My feelings have constituted quiet satisfaction rather than raucous celebration.
But that quiet satisfaction has been a boost to my confidence. My book looks beautiful, and at last I feel I can really be proud of it.
It looks like a normal book by a proper author. It's no longer a figment of my imagination, but a product. A lump of paper to be sold for cold hard cash. Perhaps for some writers that would be a depressing thought, but for me it's liberating. I can now talk about it at a distance – it's a tangible article that I can promote without feeling self-indulgent, because other people have put such a huge amount of care into editing it, designing it and above all believing in it.
Now it's over to the readers, and whether or not they like it almost feels like none of my business. I'm glad to let my book go and make its own way in the world.