“I’d give it at least a couple of hours.” This is what I’m up against, I kid you not. Featuring Louise Yates, totally nailing it as my nemesis.
Been off for a while now. And whilst I’d love to tell you I’ve been lording it up in the Seychelles or chatting to itinerant builders about a snooker room in my recently excavated basement, the absolute truth is considerably less exciting: I’ve been on the road, and not in a Jack Kerouac stylee – as you might expect from a dynamic new author with a sexy book out and a lust for life that would give Iggy a run for his money. No, I’ve been taking the train to far-flung portals of London with a Pay As You Go Oyster card, seeking out small independent bookshops that might be prepared to take a punt on a dynamic new author with a sexy book out etc… And guess what? There’s almost none.
Perhaps it’s the way I do it. I tend to rock up at these places (still smarting from the stealth tax TfL exact on those who don’t use their wretched system every day), a little sheepish and clutching a cardboard box with the printer’s sticker visible at the front. It contains about eight books, a roll of parcel tape, a clipboard, a biro and some flyers from the launch. As I enter the premises, I realise I have but a few seconds to weigh up the level of resistance I will encounter from staff members well versed in the dismissal of self-published authors who don’t yet know the ropes:
Me: Good afternoon!
SM: Hi there, what can I do for you?
Me: Is…er…Julian around?
SM: You’ve just missed him. He’s out on lunch. I’d give it a couple of hours.
Me: Not a problem. Perhaps you could help, though. I’ve just made my first book (SM begins to glaze over) and I wondered if it’s the kind of thing you guys would be interested in stocking?
SM: Er…yeah yeah, cool! Could you leave a copy with us until Julian gets back?
Me: Of course!
SM: (rapidly flicking through) Cool! I’ll get him to take a look as soon as he’s in.
Me: Thanks. I really appreciate it.
SM: I’d give it at least a couple of hours.
At this point, I trawl the nearby tragimarts for an entry level cheese sandwich. You know, one of those sad sack, wafer-thin triangles with a green label that retails at about £1.79. Because you do not have to be Nostradamus to figure out what’s around the corner, and any source of nourishment for the struggle should adequately reflect this. Next, I traverse the neighbourhood until I cannot bear it any longer and/or my feet are begging for mercy:
Me: Hello again! Is Julian back, by any chance?
SM: (pulling up book from behind desk) Yeah yeah, he was in about 20 minutes ago. Sorry, not really the kind of thing we’re after. Good luck with it, though. Looks great.
‘Looks great.’ Well, at least that’s something. Maybe next time I’ll concentrate on the words…
OK, action stations! Everything I’ve worked towards for the last four years is about to kick off big time on Friday. No room for funnies now, just need to know that you’re all on board. It’s been a mad week, what with the computer playing up, the launch party, being sick as a panda and losing my voice just as we were shooting the straight-to-camera stuff, but at last the whole shebang is going to pitch and it’s in the lap of the Gods what happens after.
At this stage of the game you need a bit of TLC, because most of your time is taken up with being wired on adrenalin, not sleeping, eating shit food, drinking shedloads of quality alcohol, smoking for Britain, swearing and crying. Oh, and doing the work. And for the most part, people have been pretty good. I even brought some campaign postcards into my local café yesterday, and the Italian girl who I usually get served by took one look at me and said “Guess it’s started then!” Bless her. The family have finally accepted that I mean business, I’ve got four more followers on the Twitter and some bloke at the party said my stuff was worthy of Ed Reardon. High praise indeed.
But never mind that. What matters more than anything right now is that I reach the funding goal. Although I’ve been trying to imagine what to do if this doesn’t happen. Those bloody letters to the artists, oh God!
Thanks for your interest and involvement with the Idle Eye project. I regret to inform you that, to date, it hasn’t received the anticipated volume of public support and consequently I would suggest that you to persevere with your chosen profession as before. This is in no way indicative of the quality of your work. We are living through austere times and there is only so much gold in the pot. Sadly, this time it isn’t yours.
I shall, of course, keep your details on file and if anything suitable arises in the fullness of time, I’ll be in touch. And if you need an assistant, I am but an email away. They say my coffee is excellent and I am quick at washing up.
Then there would be that climbdown in front of those I’ve bigged it up to for months, followed by the inevitable mockery as I re-entered the world of gainful employment. Fortunately, such a ghastly, apocalyptic projection has been the spur for me to soldier on regardless. Failure is so not an option it’s not even a hologram. And if that elusive target proves to be exactly that, I’ll have a chat with my nine chums of Hatton Garden notoriety and furnish myself with a few tips. Because who would expect a half-cut, wan blogger to be capable of anything more than a few shoddy words of whimsy every week?