Had some really good news today.
I wrote on Facebook on 19 September, 2014.
Celebrated with a £9 car wash. That's right, the 'Topaz'.
The auto-generated memory that Facebook burped up for me last week
probably sounds like any other boring status update that means nothing to almost everyone. In this case, it meant everything to me.
I didn't dare actually say what the good news was until the paperwork was signed and the news was out there - a childhood belief in the power of the jinx still going strong.
It's been a year since I agreed my two-book UK deal with Corvus, part of Atlantic Books. We're still a few months away from the January publication, and I'm still a rookie but nonetheless, I've learned a buttload over this last year.
1. Book people are lovely
Despite being perennially busy and (no doubt) being asked the same rookie questions 12 million times a month by new authors, the people who work in publishing are the most welcoming, patient, encouraging and supportive. They genuinely love books, stories, writing and it shows.
And other authors, seasoned and respected authors, are so generous with their time and kind about newcomers that it's blown me away.
2. It takes a village to raise a book
I've written before about the question that (perhaps unfairly) grates on me every time. "Why Does It Take So long for Your Book to Come Out if You've Already Written It?"
Answer: Because there is a whole team of incredibly talented, insightful pros putting the moves on my manuscript to make it as sexified as it possibly can be. That's why.
3. Everyone's a bloody expert
Many strangely confident - but wildly inaccurate - armchair experts have emerged through the fog of this first year. From distant family members to noisy friends of friends, it seems an awful lot of people know an awful little about publishing. And they aren't afraid to share it.
4. But everyone's really proud too
And even the ones who offer over-confident nonsense are being nice with it. Friends, family, even acquaintances have been so sweet and rallying about my writing that I've felt a sense of accomplishment and belonging that has taken my breath away. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit, and an incredibly angst-ridden one. You're basically distilling your life's thoughts, observations and creativity into a big chopping block to put your head on. But it's not been scary, because family and friends have my back and I feel less solitary now than I ever have.
5. You're more capable of killing darlings than you thought
You don't get to be precious. Every line has to work. Every character has to earn their place. If the story needs it, you'll slaughter beloved people and drown dialogue you thought was your life's work. And it's worth it.
6. Bad reviews won't kill you
Not everyone can think you're a life-affirming genius. They may not even think you can string a sentence together. Your writing, my writing, isn't for everyone. But before I had a bad review, I dreaded bad reviews like they were a kind of death.
Then I got one.
It's nothing like a kind of death.
And you know what the weirdest thing is? I actually still felt grateful that they read the book. So it wasn't for them? That's okay. No one died.
7. Good reviews are the best gifts a stranger could give you*
(*Ignoring things like organ donation)
It's giddying, humbling and ego-exploding to know that someone I've never met thinks good things about my book. Likes the characters I feel in love with, sees the pictures I'd tried to paint. God, it's so f***ing cool that these lovely people, these articulate, smart, interesting folk read my book and liked it enough to review it. I will be forever grateful to them all.
8. And relax. You do have more than one good idea
Everyone is different but for me, I had to rip the plaster off and get to writing book two as soon as possible. I knew that if I waited until Try Not To Breathe came out, the cat would get my tongue. I'd either be too scared to veer in any different direction because I didn't want to disappoint people who liked it. Or I'd be paralysed by any criticism.
So I was very relieved to find out that there was more in the old noggin than just one story.
Phew, phew, phew.