If you happened to be on Twitter late last Friday night, you’ll have seen me venting my excitement that after way too long, four pushed deadlines and enough caffeine to undead a zombie, I finally finished Backpacked. Finally.
Writing Backpacked was much like the trip Backpacked is about: I didn’t want to do it at first, then after a week or so I was thinking, “This isn’t so bad, is it?”, then a few things happened that made me regret my decision to even start, then I almost jacked it all in and then, just when I started to enjoy myself, it seemed to come rushing to a premature end. The last chapter of the book is supposed to be a bit sad, so I listened to Thomas Newman’s The Letter That Never Came – from the soundtrack to A Series of Unfortunate Events – to make me sad so I could put sad on the page, but in doing so, I became genuinely sad. I know: it’s hard to keep up with all the sads.
But why? I knew it wasn’t because I’d finished the book because typing “The End” is my absolutely favorite part of writing. And I hoped it wasn’t because the book was bad, because actually I quite like it. (I even might, dare I say, like it more than Mousetrapped.) So that left just one plausible explanation: I was sad because it’s been ages since I’ve had an adventure.
I got back from Central America in May 2008. Since then I’ve gone on plenty of trips and seen some amazing places, but I haven’t had a true adventure; I’ve lived here the whole time. Of course I was busy doing other things: writing Mousetrapped, submitting Mousetrapped, self-publishing Mousetrapped, writing a novel, submitting the novel, deciding to self-publish the novel too, writing Self-Printed, self-publishing Self-Printed, writing Backpacked… etc. etc. Lots of fantastic things have happened to me as a result of those decisions and I constantly thank my lucky stars that I get to make a living writing books. But although it sounds exciting, it’s not. There’s some exciting things about it, like being on the radio or in a newspaper or talking at a conference, but nine out of every ten days is spent on my arse in front of my desk, at my computer. I don’t even need to leave the house. That’s hardly an adventure.
And I need an adventure, because what I am going to write about next? I suspect that while Twitter is happy enough with my tales of work and coffee-drinking, a book that doesn’t make. So I need to do something, to go somewhere. I have no idea what or where yet, but I’m considering my options.
So there’s that.
Then there’s another thing happening: My Secret Project. Any given hour of any given day online there are an average of twenty-seven writers* whispering about their “secret projects” and it always really annoys me… but now I’m doing it too. Stone me, at once! But the time to do it has to fit in somewhere as well and… well, there’s just a lot going on. And all I really want to do is lie somewhere and get stuck into these:
Because of all these schedule changes, consider Backpacked and Results Not Typical‘s release dates to be in flux. I’ve already brought the end date of the pre-ordering period forward to this Monday, 31st July (as opposed to the end of August which is what it was originally). If you want a signed, personally inscribed copy of Backpacked, click here before Monday.
Last week while I was up to my eyeballs in (the memories of) mosquito nets, cockroaches and food poisoning, a guest post I’d written for Taleist went up about why self-publishers need to start minding their manners. I absolutely detest with a vengeance the phrase “going viral” or any derivative of it, but that’s kind of what happened. My Twitter stream was filled with people re-tweeting it and my blog hits went to Crazy Town – clearly, I’d struck a nerve. Besides one or two people who thought I was literally talking about manners, i.e. self-publishers saying “please” and “thank you” (I despair sometimes, I really do), everyone who left a comment or tweeted about it agreed with me: an air of entitlement has settled over many a self-publisher, and something needs to be done because as writers we are unbelievably lucky when it comes to opportunities these days. Some very interesting points were raised in the comments and I plan on writing more about them in the near future.
Just as soon as I read all those books…
Speaking of which, I was thrilled to hear that Alison Pick’s Far To Go is on the Man Booker longlist. Regular readers will know I reviewed it a while back and it just blew me away. If you haven’t read it, I insist that you do – but have the Kleenex ready because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be a sobbing mess by the end of it.
*I just made that up.