Today has been one of the joyful, privileged fantasy of a writer’s life kind of a days. I suppose that many people think that every day of being a writer is like this. Most of them aren’t but they do come along from time to time and should be enjoyed. So, at the risk of sounding crowing and smug, this is my day so far.
I was researching in the morning, via Google Books, and being entertained by notes I took last week at the BL from various travellers’ accounts of the drinking culture in the German Courts. ‘We were four or five hours at table and never stopped drinking. As people passed out they were carried from the room.’ Sounds like one of Ned and my dinner parties. Only, by the sound of it, our food is better.
Then lunch in the British Museum with Flora, my editor at Headline. Several good things about this, first a nice chance for a general catch-up, second Flora handed me a copy of a review of Anatomy from Saturday’s Telegraph (‘This series… continues to excel’ – why thank you); thirdly chatting about book 3. Flora likes it, and I’m looking forward to getting her thoughts. It’s also great to be able to say to your editor ‘I was wondering if it needed x, or what do you think of y?’ and knock ideas back and forth, knowing the feedback will be honest and useful. Saying that I ask questions like that might make it sound as if I’m not confident about my work, but in fact it the opposite is true. You can only have these discussions usefully from a place of quiet confidence, they feel too threatening otherwise. People ask me about what it’s like to be edited quite often. It’s good. Someone who doesn’t want feedback from an intelligent, smart editor at this point is either terrified of their own book, afraid it’ll collapse if they alter one thing, or is delusional about their own talents. Thirdly, free book. Seth Hunter. Looks good. Fourthly there was an amazing chilled, clear tomato soup which was delicious and refreshing and perfectly suited to the white marble surroundings of the BM.
Then I come home to find Ned has cleaned the flat and my copies of the Polish edition of Instruments have arrived. I don’t speak any Polish, can only recognise a couple of words on a page which share the same roots as Russian, and I love the way the names of my friends have turned out in the acknowledgements. I guess they are all in the dative case (thanks to…), but I can’t work out the rules. Ned comes out as Nedowi, Roddy Lumsden comes out as Roddy’emu Lumsdenowi, but Neel, Amy, Heather, Kath and Ahren come out unaltered. Flora gaines a ‘z’. To the Family becomes ‘Rodzinie’. The cover is beautiful too, very similar to the UK paperback (gates, trees), but they are different gates and a greener colour-scheme.
And tonight I’m off out to have a drink with the London Chapter of the CWA.
So I know the winter writing days will come soon where I spend my time wired with coffee and beating my head against plot-points and not seeing anyone for weeks on end, but for the moment my considered advice is this: Give up your jobs and write books instead. It’s great.