There are many things I struggle with; Going to a small but busy market. Walking into a room already full of people and chatter. Eating alone in a restaurant. Walking within 50ft of a cliff edge. Applying make-up. And – the most rarely encountered but most difficult of all – asking for a quote for the blurb on the back of my soon-to-be-published book. This last one leaves me hot with embarrassment, mentally cringing. The publisher, not unreasonably, says that I must know lots of famous people (I do) but what she forgets is that famous people are usually successful people and, in the World of film and TV, successful people are busy people, and they’re all at this moment in a meeting or on a train or boarding a plane, or in rehearsals or in front of the camera, while I sit here in rural obscurity and wonder how to word my request so that it isn’t too Uriah Heepish, or Uriah sheepish, or intrusive. It’s not a good task, this publishing and marketing lark. In essence, I’m asking someone to put into words how much they love my work and then share them with the world.
And what if they don’t? Many people don’t. I don’t have a right to be appreciated. I don’t even care when people don’t like my work… so why do I have to do this at all? Writing isn’t about backslaps or brickbats, it’s just about writing. I want to say ‘Publish and be damned’ in that airy British grande dame way, but the publisher knows her stuff, so I meekly say ‘OK. I’ll ask a few people and get back to you.’
She forgets that I’m a screen writer, a dramatist, not a book writer so the people I ask, all from the world of drama, may be reluctant to even read my book, let alone have an opinion about it. And I’ve not had anything produced for a few years so when these luminaries get my email their first reaction may be ‘Well, I never! I thought she was dead!’
But I’m not and the damn book is due out in May or June or sometime not too far away.
So, I very nervously approached two colleagues, one a director I’ve worked with for 25 years and one an actor whose talent and work amaze me. Almost immediately, within minutes, two really warm and happy replies, full of enthusiasm and love. People are so wholeheartedly… erm… thingy, erm, you know… without going all soppy…. people are just kind. Sometimes it surprises me and it shouldn’t.
Honestly, you chaps and chapesses – what’s the big deal? I mean, what was all that fuss about? Time I strolled down to the farmer’s market, and called in at the cafe along the way for a plate of fish and chips, then a quick detour to peer over a crumbling cliff edge while applying mascara and vermilion lipstick and false eyelashes……
The book is going to look a bit like this, they say.
And here’s a photo of the beach this morning. As I sat on the rock, with the dogs snuffling around and arguing over a piece of seaweed, I read chapter 8 of Deuteronomy. It became a prayer of thanks, the words true and personal, a promise already delivered, redemption already realised:
‘the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.’
We might lack vines and fig trees but we have a Tescos and an Aldi and some really great bakeries.
Have a great weekend, wherever you are.