I have had conversations with two friends with books out in May and June about that long wait from write/edit to publication, and the notion of feeling divorced from the whole process during that time. When researching it seems all consuming, in my case a seesaw of pleasure and pain, and signing off the proof can be some kind of relief.
When you see the end product there is the tangible pleasure of holding a book, and thinking how much of you it represents. You are then embroiled in the round of publicity that is absolutely necessary if you want to get the book known about, and hopefully purchased in decent numbers. Some find that easy to do, and others less so. You have decide for yourself how blatant your self-publicity should be, and accept being called a ‘media tart’ if you manage some spectacular paper, radio, or podcast appearance.
You want reviews to appear, but can’t bear the thought of a bad one. I still cringe inside when I think of the worst book review I have ever had:
If you want a copy of xxxxx, mine is in the bin at Geneva airport.
Actually I find it funny now, and often relay the story when talking on the subject.
It is even possible to lose your connection with your own work. One of the friends mentioned above recently said,
I haven’t really looked at it since receiving the hard copies. It seems surreal that I ever wrote it.
I have had similar feelings, but usually after a somewhat longer time has elapsed. I do know that something can come to me and I will want to refer back to one of books to get the story. This can produce two strange situations. Firstly, I might not be able to recall which book it was in (oh come on Steve, they are similar but not that much so!); or secondly, when I find it and re-read it I think, ‘did I really write that?’.
These thoughts have arisen because I have recently been mulling over the possibility of writing Book 4, and have been trying to write the synopsis. Possibly starting the long haul of another book also took me back to something I wrote earlier on this blog about finishing one of my earlier books [https://itsahill.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/when-is-a-book-finished/].
So, who were those two friends? Well, they have
written books on subjects very close to my heart.
Jonny Muir’s ‘The Mountains are Calling’ is (as I have noted elsewhere) written a lyrical style that brilliantly evokes the emotions one experiences in what Boff Whalley called running wild. It is the story of hill running in Scotland, ‘charting its evolution …. heralding its characters and the culture that has grown around them, ultimately capturing the irresistible appeal of running in high places.’ Jonny also writes a very entertaining blog.
Ken Field’s ‘Cartography.’ is (in publicity speak): ‘an inspiring and creative companion along the nonlinear journey toward making a great map. This sage compendium for contemporary mapmakers distills the essence of cartography into useful topics.’ I was critical friend, contributed a miniscule piece, and think it is a game changer. Ken also writes an interesting blog.
A great ‘Conversation with Billy Bland’ at the Due North Events gig in Skipton last Friday. Brill to have a bunch of family there, meet some friends, and sign a few books. Billy was on good form, coping well with a reluctant sound system. His responses were invariably educating and amusing.
A different audience and a interesting variety of questions came up. I particularly liked hearing Billy talk about some stuff I hadn’t known about before, or were uncertain of their veracity: for instance appearing on an ITV programme in 1986 called ‘Survival of the Fittest’ (a sort of Superstars contest); his having challenged himself by cycling up and down Honister 700 times one year; and confirming what I always thought was a rural myth, that he ran on the spot in his kitchen once for three hours (but only once he laughed!).
Topically, as it takes place this Sat, I was fascinated to find out that he once won the Old County Tops race (37 miles run as a pair, with 10,000 feet of ascent, starting in Gt Langdale and taking in Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Coniston OM before returning to Gt Langdale).
In 1992 he partnered Scoffer and said that he suffered mid-race but finished strongly as Scoffer began to suffer towards the end, chuckling as he said it, as he felt he had the last laugh, particularly as they held on to win.
Billy is a fascinating man, who was one of my three ‘fell legends’ in my book that tells the history of the sport of fell running – It’s a hill, get over it.
NEXT TALK: on 19 June I will be doing a double act with Joss Naylor at the Buxton Adventure Festival. He will be talk about his life of running and farming before taking questions. My talking will be about the history of the Bob Graham Round, but also an exploration of the what, why and how of this classic challenge. Details.