So I brought out my second book out last week. No this is not a smug column. It’s the opposite, especially after my interview in the paper received the comment ‘99p to download on Kindle? Daylight robbery’.
A year of work, the dragging up of a past I don’t like to think about, all for 99p. Yes, I probably should just get a ‘proper job’, but no one will have me. I got fired from my one waitressing job for refusing to let go of the plate till the customer said thank you. The saying manners cost nothing is a lie. They cost me my wages.
Anyway, I know mean comments are just part and parcel of social media. People go on facebook to laugh at other people on facebook. I know this because I do it. It makes us feel better about our boring lives that are nothing like the lives we post photos of on Facebook. We all know we do this, but we keep doing it anyway. Facebook ‘likes’ are the ultimate backhanded compliment.
I know when I post stuff about my book, my facebook friends will think ‘Gah, Ericka is banging on about her novel again. No one cares’, or ‘She thinks she’s something special she does’ or ‘I don’t know why she bothered. The last one was crap’.
I know this and yet I do it anyway because if I don’t promote the poxy thing, no one will buy it and then it really will all have been a colossal waste of time. I really don’t think I’m special though, not at all. As Emily Dickenson said ‘I am nobody, who are you? Are you – nobody too?’
Writing a book is like taking off all your clothes and walking round naked saying ‘Look at me, find my flaws. That cellulite on my bum, can you see it? That wrinkly skin on my tummy, my mis-matching breasts, that mole the size of a two-piece coin? yes it has got hairs on.’
It’s like peeling off a layer of skin and rubbing vinegar on yourself. Everything hurts. The sales figures, the reviews. When I re-read the final version, I was so awash with shame I had to put it under my bed, (along with the last one).
Why did I do it then? I thought it was a good idea at the time, obviously. I thought writing about a teenager with anxiety might help someone. I thought writing a teenage romance would be fun and lusty, spice up the old hokey-cokey. I thought I’d written characters that were relatable and interesting. Now they just annoy me. All writing the book has done is made me anxious again, so that’s a good advert isn’t it?
When people tell me, they want to buy it, I find myself saying ‘don’t bother, unless you need to stop a draft somewhere’.
I should never have written it. I should never have gotten such a huge tattoo. I should never have tried to prune my own apple tree (that is not a euphemism).
The problem is I know I’m not going to change and I’ll probably write another book soon. I’m never going to be shrinking violet. The more I try and contain myself, the more obscenities I end up blurting out from all the withholding. I hear my voice when talking to friends and think ‘shut up you over-powering twazzock’ but instead of being quiet, I shout ‘one of my nipples points to the right’.
I wrote the book because I wanted to, and because it would have been harder to not write it. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else for doing so. I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. Artists and writers only get respect posthumously, and I won’t be around to see it.
I wrote the book because I don’t want to regret the things I didn’t do. I want to inspire my children live enormous lives full of excitement. I wrote the book because even though I do care what people think (some of you, some of the time) I refuse to not do things in case people laugh at me because of it.
My book is not going to change the world, or my bank balance. It is not going to be held up as an example of fine literature. However, if one person with anxiety reads it and feels less alone, it’s done what I wanted it to do, and if it inspires anyone else to tap away at their own story then that is a bonus.
So, I need to pull up my big girl panties, plaster on a smile and tell myself ‘you are all just jealous, I’m the clam’s garter, the tadpole’s teddies, the cuckoo’s chin’, and I will, soon. After I’ve finished feeding my insecurities with chocolate and online shopping.