When I reach a certain age, I keep telling myself, I will be able to accept all that life sends me with equanimity — that is, with a balanced attitude, in a state of zen-like indifference. My spirit will be whole, highly developed and impervious to any petty slights of this material world. Doesn’t seem to work that way. My experience in having my first real book published has delivered me more ups and downs in a few weeks than any other single year of my life.
There is nothing to compare with the sheer exhilaration of being accepted by a publishing company — in this case an e-publisher — who tells you they reject more than 90% of submissions. It was the first time since leaving school and doing particularly well in a few university papers and assignments — and that was thirty years ago — that I was told I was in the top 10-percentile in ANYTHING. Former lovers please note. This was acceptance, even praise, in the grown-up world, which — maybe because so long coming — has to count for more than a teacher’s opinion/encouragement of a student.
Quickly following this was great support from friends; the usual misunderstanding/ misinterpretation by family members; then the welcome distraction of getting the cover designed; tweaking the text until it’s just right; finding out the 15-page index I’d just compiled painstakingly has to be ‘automated’ (still don’t know what that is and don’t think I ever will) and so is left out, with an appendix too I thought was rather key.
But proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating — which might have been relevant if I wasn’t doing a book, because not many people want to taste my pudding. Of a potential readership of around six and a half billion on the planet — most of whom seem to have been captured by J K Rowling with seemingly very little effort or signs of outstanding skill or originality — it is amazing the near unanimous consensus they seem to have come to in staying away from my book.
I’ve come to the realisation that when ego is involved — and I do have one — and as long as one considers oneself even marginally a social being and is therefore striving for and dependent upon positive feedback and reinforcement of your efforts from fellow beings, then one is always somewhat at the mercy of likeminded people and market forces: likeminded people for that essential reinforcement of spirit and purpose; the market for some reassurance that one’s book isn’t being bought just by friends. Always in the knowledge that the market for ebooks tends to be hogged by bestsellers with names like ‘Boys Have Penises; Girls Have Vaginas’ and ‘Your Parchese Evening: 101 Ways to Success ‘.