It is the last week of September 2019 in the UK and when I am not thinking about an amalgam of Mervin Peake’s illustrations for Lewis Carols Alice and Wonderland and his Gormenghast; all crooked and crumbling castles and distorted faces glowering from lonely shadows as they gibber, “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean” and “This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven.”, I turn off the news and remember that Changing the Subject, which is not dark and quite funny, will be launched on September 30th.
Thanks to a couple more helpful readers and finally figuring out the best way for Angela to express herself I’ve done the, most probably, final edits. Amazon insists I have to stop editing a couple of days before publication. So, unless BOJO is ousted within the next two days it is definitely done. Some people have told me that I’m making myself a hostage to fortune with references to BOJO and Brexit. They say that events are changing so quickly that my book could be out of date by the time it goes to print. I say, Quickly? Really? Three years plus to possibly, maybe leave the EU is quick is it.
Some parts of the UK coastline are eroding, we have rested on this shoddy edifice of chalk and cheese for ages and now bits are falling off. Yes, their self-made storm of a referendum has exposed the shaky ground on which our political class stands. Yes, it took literally ages for the ideas of sceptred isles and bulldogs and far far better things and representatives and green and pleasant civilisers of a God given Empire to cover the fissures. Yes, the idiot grandchildren of the people who nurtured all those lies are in charge now. Yes, the wheels of justice are grinding over the people's Sovereignty in unseemly haste. But let’s not confuse the thunder of a crack along a pre-existing faultline or the tumble of a few feeble politicos onto the rocks below as actual change. That sounds suitably sweeping to help those people to move onto the present perils of dressing for the cold in the morning only to find oneself boiling hot or soaked by 9 o’clock. What I don’t point out is that I’ve kept things pretty vague, just in case.
Also, I have to admit that I rather like the immediacy of self-publishing. The walls of time between writing and publication as well as the distance between writer and reader, which are arguably only less than a hundred years old anyway, have without us really noticing, crumbled. The agent to publisher to printer to shop at particular times of year gates are still guarded keenly but hoards of us are just walking in through the back ways.
And Changing the Subject is first and foremost a story, the people there will be saying the same things and making the same mistakes forever now. So, what’s done is done and I don’t think it particularly matters exactly when.
What else can a month of mainly promoting yourself, and the prospect of more to come, let you think? Honestly, not a lot. My mind has most definitely been wandering and I have more sympathy for friends who talk of not being able to settle down to write.
Getting on with writing has never been a problem for me. When other people with a writing deadline say that they have found themselves hoovering the skirting boards or googling recipes for Choux buns rather than type on I have nodded and smiled and not really connected with what they are talking about. Writing is my distraction, a way of avoiding the cleaning or proper work of other kinds.
I have got stuck with where to go with a character or a storyline, but at those times I have found the best course of action has been to stare out of the window or wander down to the old graveyard and daze at some trees. The people who despairingly self-decry their displacement and post photos of the flour free chocolate cake they’ve made have been mere objects of pity.
Now, after a month of marketing, what can I say? My house is spotless. I am supposed to be giving it my best shot and I have redesigned my spreadsheets, gone out to buy a new mop, made lasagne on a week night and spent too long thinking about analogies for the state of these small islands. Anything other than just get on and find a website, note the contact details and write an email, over and over and over again.
I’ve got some paid work in a couple of hours so I should have time to write to a few bloggers. What I am actually going to do is google Mervin Peake and look at pictures ‘for this blog’. I hope the tiny number of people who know it exists will like them too.