Three years ago when I launched my first book, Malcolm Orange Disappears, I had the whole night organised to within an inch of its life. I had little bags containing everything I’d need for each facet of the launch packed days in advance. Maybe I was worried that the book launch would begin prematurely. Probably I was just being anal. I had a bespoke playlist prepared on my iPad, (which then proceeded to disappear at the launch and stay disappeared for almost two years before reappearing at the bottom of one of my extremely organised launch material bags, which I was only getting round to unpacking two years later- there’s definitely a life lesson in there somewhere). I had thank you cards for everyone and colour themes and the sort of detail most people don’t even get round to putting into their wedding. I spent the day of the launch at the hairdressers and having lunch in a fancy restaurant. I sucked the life out of every second of that day, mostly because I thought I might only get one chance at having a book launch.
Tonight is the launch for my third book, Postcard Stories. I will not spend the day in the hairdressers. I have not had time to even wash my hair yet. I am planning on spending the day as I always do: writing for a couple of hours, dealing with admin emergencies and preparation for upcoming events, tackling the mountain of yesterday’s dishes beginning to crust in the sink. If I am lucky I will have a shower AND take time to dry my hair with an actual hairdryer. If I am particularly lucky I might even get to go over my reading before I stand up to read. I spent last night making a midnight dash to 24 Hour Tesco for printer paper and a new ink cartridge for my signing pen. I am not particularly prepared, (bits of my attempts to be prepared are currently spread over five rooms and the back seat of my car). I am not having lunch in a fancy restaurant. There is no colour scheme for tonight, (though there are tiny shortbreads shaped like post vans). I have lost my iPod again so there won’t be a bespoke music mix, (sorry).
Third books are like third babies. By this stage I know what to expect. I know just how much work it takes to get the little buggers from conception through to safe delivery. I know it isn’t quite as glamorous or effortless as I initially thought it would be. It requires hard work, and many, many self-rallying pep talks, and a lot of actual sweat, (nobody told me how much physical hauling and carrying and dashing between one place and the next would be involved in writing books). Three books in and I finally have a vague idea of what is required of me. The initial terrifying thrill of being cast into the giddying unknown has kind of rubbed off. Which is not to say the third book is any less precious than the first. Every book is a different experience and every book is a kind of miracle. I’m still a little blown away by the fact that an idea can, over time, be translated into words and then an actual physical object which I can hold in my hands and line up on a book shelf and pass on to other people. Magic. Alchemy. Blood, sweat and tears; call it what you like, it’s still a kind of revelation. And there is still no feeling in the world quite like standing in a room full of your best and favourite people celebrating such a thing together. And, unlike my first book launch, I am now reasonably confident that if I work hard, and keep writing and surround myself with the sort of people who won’t let me give up, then this book won’t be my last and I’ll get to do this all over again next year or the year after.