Guest Blog – Michael Nolan

After an incredibly busy week it’s an absolute pleasure to pass the blogging reigns to a wonderful friend and fantastic young Northern Irish Writer. I hope you enjoy Michael Nolan’s blog about his own experience of publishing his first novel, The Blame, to be published by Salt Publishing in early June. Mickey is an absolute legend, one of the most genuine, focused and encouraging writers I’ve met in the last few years. He’s only in his early twenties and has already accomplished so much with his writing. If you’re in town be sure to get along to Mickey’s book launch as part of the Belfast Book Festival (2nd week of June) and follow his brilliant blog at Over to you Mickey…

Micky image

It’s easy enough to slip into exhausted axioms, expletives even, when faced with describing what it’s like having your first novel coming out. The initial paralysis, the dumbfounded shock, the rushes of excitement and angst. Then the calming period, the settling in of yourself. Like moving into a new place, it takes a week or two to get used to, and when you do your book launch becomes one of those thing’s that’s happening some point down the line. You don’t need to really worry about it. Not just yet.

But for me that point was much sooner than is usual for writers. I got the news in March and would be published in June. Three months. A blink in the publishing world. I have the eBook format to thank for that. No printing press. No proof copies. There’s an editing period and all that comes with it, then a publication day. Instant worldwide publication with one click of a mouse or tap of a touch-pad. And as that date draws ever closer, and news comes of multiple readings and a launch (instigated by yours truly, Jan Carson) it all becomes very real.

I quickly reverted back to that initial period of shock and angst. Mostly angst. You know yourself. It’s like that eighteenth birthday party you organised long ago in one of the many GAA or social clubs about the road. Them places with a relaxed outlook on what constitutes legal admittance. Where blind eyes are turned and side doors always open. Will your younger mates get in without ID? Will people show up and enjoy it? Or will they leave early, disgusted at the turnout and DJ and overall shiteness of St Paul’s?

I’m an over thinker you see, and just about everything that could be over-thought about the publication of this book has been. Moments of horrible dread are quickly followed by those of irrepressible excitement. Anything can trigger it. A conversation with a peer, an email, a look at what is going to be the cover or, as did happen, bumping into a fella I haven’t seen since secondary school and him telling me how excited he is, that he can’t wait to give it a read even though he doesn’t read much at all.

That fella is a professional boxer now with a three wins and no loses. He was always going to be that. Everyone in school knew it. Anyone that knows anything about boxing in West Belfast knew it. So when he paused mid-conversation, a puzzled look about him, and said, ‘It’s mad to think Micky Nolan’s publishing a book. You weren’t even smart in school,’ I realised the scope of the difference between us.

He’s right about me not being smart in school. I’d more than likely be found in the back field beaking and smoking fegs than in class. But what he said was telling about me as a writer. Nobody ever knew that this is what I wanted to do. They didn’t know that I was going home after school and writing stories. They didn’t even know I read. It was my secret, the thing I did and wanted no one to know about. Imagine the slegging I would’ve got, the fights I would’ve gotten into with lads who said, ‘ah gee he reads books. What a fruit.’

Part of me still thinks people will react that way. They probably will actually. But here I am despite it, presenting something I made to the world, still scratching my head as to how it all happened, and it’s terrifying. Even though that fella probably won’t read it. Even though many people won’t read it. The secret I’ve harboured for so long is out and I suppose it’s a kind of relief. I feel like I don’t have to lie any more, even though I probably still will.

Michael Nolan is 23 years old, from Belfast. He completed a BA in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moore’s University, then the MA at Queen’s University, Belfast, in 2012. While in Liverpool, he was selected by the Literature Officer at The Bluecoat to read at their ‘Next Up’ writer’s series, and was editor of In the Red Magazine’s 9th issue. He has published several short stories, and won the LJMU Avalon Prize for poetry in 2012. Currently represented by Sam Copeland of Rogers, Coldridge and White. His first novel The Blame will be published by Salt Publishing in early June 2014.

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