Final edits, covers, illustrations, proofs.
I’ve finished writing Spring Rain, I've finished everything I have to do with it, it's gone off to be turned into a book! The covers have been designed and illustrated, It’s green, very green, not an easy colour to sell I would think, green doesn’t stand out much and tends to fade to camouflage but, like 'How to Catch a Mole' that glitters grey and gold from the depths of the bookshop stacks I think it works. Only time will tell.
Sometimes there are loose ends in the story - hanging threads from ideas that were not fully formed or passages cut out in an editing stage, I had the final comments and questions about them from the copy editor Mandy this morning and I’ve answered those and snipped them off and I think we have snagged all the little bits out and polished it up and Mandy and I have said our final goodbyes, for this book anyway. We do not meet, we send each other emails and the manuscript goes back and forth
I wanted to illustrate Spring Rain myself and my publisher went for it so I’ve done twelve line drawings that are scattered through the text, they have been sent to Vintage and accepted.
My work is done.
Next will come typesetting and bound page proofs for reviewers. Proofs are sent out to peers who might be willing to review it, other writers, journalists and so on. This is how a newly launched book gets comments on the cover from readers before it has been published. If you can get a respected authors name on the cover it helps. Reviews are massively important in this overcrowded and segmented book market. A good review can launch a book, a bad one kill it and send the author looking for another job. Getting authors to review books for cover blurb is very difficult. Obviously they are all writing their own work and being asked to read outside of the stuff they read for work, and write for free. Being asked to write for free is is the bane of every writers life, the same goes for anybody working in the arts, we are always being asked to work for nothing. A few authors are unfailingly generous and they are soon swamped with proof copies of books 'they might like to review', so if you get even a single comment that’s worth printing then you are very lucky. There is of course an inside thing called ‘barrel rolling’, a writer writes a comment for a book in the full knowledge that the generosity will be reciprocated at a later date by some positive blurb in return. Some genres are more susceptible to this than others. Anyway, we will see what happens, it is always a punt.
Do I write blurb? Yes I do, but only if I love the book. We all have different tastes and if I don't like a book, then it's obviously not for me but may well be for someone else. If you are reading, then you are in my tribe and I do not judge what you read.
How do I feel? I'm excited, very curious to see what the response will be. Tired, excited again about what comes next. Writing is a journey, a wonderful and deeply immersed journey that takes all of my time, effort, energy, imagination, it separates me from the world, as if I were contained in a submarine alone for perhaps two years and it makes me fat. I am fat and need to get off my chair, away from my desk and up onto my feet to do what I really love doing more than anything else in the world. I love to walk, to wander about and have a bite to eat then wander some more and look at stuff and watch the people.
So what is next for me? Walking of course and I am working on some analogue studio photographs and writing a series of poems and reflections to go with them … or am I taking photographs to go with the poems? No idea really, they feed off each other in a creative process. A book? An exhibition? A collection of essays? Who knows I just go where the creative hunger takes me.
I had hoped to spend a year pottering about with poetry and essays but the morning sickness has returned, I have started waking in the early hours again and writing notes so it looks like there might be another book on the way. I think it’s a novel, fiction from head to toe, the old excitement is building! I think should it ever get to publication stage, I may decide to publish it under another name. If you get to read the new book ‘Spring Rain’ out in February 2023 from Harvill Secker / Vintage you will read about a boy called Rain who changes his name and maybe you’ll understand why.