One of the good things about living in Italy is the general consensus that, from June onward, the weather is much too hot and sticky to keep students locked in school. By now, then, school is well and truly out, and the once-crowded school corridors are a spectral place of lone cleaners mopping the floor and the plaintive shrill of phones that never get answered. Of the students and teachers, there is not a trace. Well, who am I to argue with such a wise and humane policy?
Anyway, I now have the better part of three months in which to pretend that I’m a full-time writer, and I intend to make the most of it. When I’m not spending happy days on the lake shore, I’ll be scribbling away like mad – I hope. Things are looking good so far, not least because I recently discovered an abandoned manuscript while I was rummaging around in my desk. I’d put it to one side some time ago, thinking that it was flawed, possibly fatally so. Now, re-reading it, I’m not so sure. It needs a fair bit of work, certainly, but perhaps it can be knocked into shape. We shall see…
It’s fun, this writing lark, at least when it’s going well. (When it’s going badly, it’s akin to root canal surgery sans anaesthetic (shameless exaggeration #1)). It’s not quite as much fun, certainly, as many people seem to think, not least the 60% of the British population who apparently fancy being an author. I could be wrong, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that many of the respondents to this survey were under the impression that authors spend most of their time swanning around in their country manors or Knightsbridge penthouses, swigging champagne and rolling in the money that somehow never fails to, er, roll in. Ha! According to this survey, almost a third of all published authors make less than £350 a year, which is probably just about enough for one night in a Knightsbridge hotel, minus the champagne.
Still, writing is about as much fun as you can have. You get to create, shape and control entire worlds, which is magnificent. You test your own powers constantly, and while the results sometimes make you want to howl, there are also some magic moments when you look at what you’ve written and think, “Wow – I wrote that.” It’s a little bit like magic, or how one of our long-forgotten ancestors must have felt when he or she created fire for the first time (shameless exaggeration #2).
On the 21st of this month – that’s Sunday – the Authors Electric anthology, cunningly titled A Flash in the Pen, will be published (available for preorder at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com, for a measly 99p/99c). Anyone who knows me will also know that self-promotion makes me cringe, but I hope I’ll be forgiven on this occasion, as I’m just one of the twenty-nine contributing authors. And, believe me, it’s a considerable honour for me to see my name alongside the likes of Carnegie Medal winner Susan Price, Dennis Hamley, Kathleen Jones and Catherine Czerkawska, not to mention the other dedicated and talented writers who help to make AE what it is.
We’ll be hosting a special Facebook event on Sunday to mark launch day. At the risk of sounding like the pitchfork-waving Luddite I undoubtedly am, I have never attended a Facebook event before, so I don’t know exactly what it entails. Those in the know, however, tell me that it will run from 11 a.m. until midnight (GMT, I believe), and that attendees will have the chance to plunder a goody bag. If you’re on FB and want to attend, let me know, as I am apparently authorised to send out invitations. It’s my idea of a good party, not least because I can attend from the comfort of my own sofa and don’t have to get dressed up.
Here’s to a happy and productive summer for all!