In the Weeks After the Publication of Your Novel

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  • You will mostly feel as if you are watching yourself through a window.
  • You will pack and unpack many, many small, pull-on suitcases, occasionally filling these small, pull-on suitcases with slightly damp clothes on account of not having enough time to wash and dry your one decent-looking, black cardigan before the next departure.
  • You will come to smell of slightly damp cardigans and dry shampoo.
  • You will eat far too many “meals” in Costa
  • You will convince yourself that a cheese toastie is a passable substitute for dinner so long as it comes with some kind of side, (coleslaw, salad, a handful of cheese and onion crisps). You will try, and fail, to do likewise with a cinema-sized packet of Minstrels.
  • You will watch an inordinate amount of shite on Netflix.
  • You will not even own Netflix but will acquire Netflix just so you can watch an inordinate amount of shite.
  • You will find yourself replying to emails using the predictive response suggestions. “Sounds good to me!” “Perfect!” “My pleasure!” You will hope no one notices you have become uncharacteristically fond of exclamation marks.
  • You will write your own name so many times it is no longer recognisable as your own name and, at least once -temporarily forgetting what you’re doing- write the words Happy Birthday on a book for a stranger, then try to adapt it into a more suitable inscription.
  • You will be photographed many, many times standing against walls/holding pens, staring pensively over the edge of your own open book/cradling a coffee mug/hovering intensely over a vintage typewriter. On each of these occasions you will ask the photographer to show you a sample photo. He, or she, (though, let’s face it, it’s hardly ever a she), will show you an image where you look composed/pleasant/possibly even attractive. This will never be the photo which appears in print.
  • You will find yourself constantly fighting the desire to move your own book to the front of the shelf in every bookstore you enter. You will occasionally succumb to this desire and immediately feel so utterly lousy you are compelled to return to the bookstore and purchase more books you don’t really need.
  • You will discover spots behind your ears. Previous to this you had not realised that behind-the-ear acne was actually a thing.
  • You will like and retweet every single nice thing written about every other writer on Twitter, in a vain attempt to seem genuinely interested in the success of your fellow artists.
  • You will return to your house only to find that so many proof copies seeking cover quotes have accumulated in your hallway, your front door will not open. You will be forced to put your shoulder to your own front door and barge it open in the style of a TV detective. This will be reasonably painful.
  • You will, dismayed by just how few actual books you’ve managed to read in the last two months, switch from reading novels to poetry collections because they are shorter. Somewhere inside your soul, you will understand this is not the point of reading. You will choose to disregard this thought and read Simon Armitage instead.
  • You will walk to the gym and sit on the weights bench watching Escape to the Country. You will lift no weights and ignore the other actual weight lifters wishing to make use of the bench and, when all the Escape to the Country houses have been viewed and there’s only the boring recap bit left, leave the gym and walk home.
  • You will reconsider Super Noodles as a viable food option.
  • You will find your cactus has died of neglect.
  • You will miss two episodes of Casualty in a row.
  • You will walk to the coffee shop to write because you have decided that enough is enough and it’s high time things round here returned to normal and writing’s the only version of normal you know.
  • You will begin a new short story and, after three paragraphs, realise you are rewriting a story you have already written. You will give up writing and instead arrange your tax receipts in a spreadsheet because you have already purchased an Americano and it would be a shame to waste it.
  • You will do this every day for a month, never once completing a single story. The short stories folder on your computer will be littered with files entitled, “It started on a,” and, “She was always saying that,” because you will find the titles just as problematic as the stories themselves.
  • You will want to call every story you write during this period, “Everything Getting Worse All The Time.” Don’t. It is a good title, but it is already taken.
  • You will find yourself accumulating many, many well-ordered spreadsheets full of things which do not require ordering. This is a coping mechanism. As coping mechanisms go it is not the worst.
  • You will spend inordinate amounts of time talking to journalists and interviewers and radio presenters and booksellers and readers and other writers about your writing process. You will manage to sound like you know what you are doing when it comes to writing.
  • You will not be writing anything at the time.
  • You will feel like a hypocrite of the very worst order.
  • You will slowly begin to realise it is very likely that you will never write anything again.
  • You will watch Wonder Boys on Netflix because it seems like a good idea. (Do not watch Wonder Boys. Fictional writers in a equally despondent frame of mind are not what you need right now).
  • You will think about nothing other than not writing. You will be fixated on it morning, noon and night, interspersing your existential crisis with cheese toasties and not cleaning the bathroom.
  • You will, in a fit of “trying to keep things normal,” make an effort to spend time with your proper friends. You will sit in a bar/coffee shop/friend’s living room thinking I will never write anything decent again whilst you listen to them talking about their plans for the May Day Bank Holiday. You will want to cry, or at very least run home and watch Netflix. A little voice at the back of your head will be saying, “wise up, it’s  not like you’re curing cancer or anything. So what if you never write again?” You will know there is a grain of truth in this, and that you are being melodramatic and that eventually the words will come back to you. In the future you may even dabble in poetry or flash fiction. You will still feel a bit like crying or punching something very hard, (a scatter cushion, for example, or a bestselling novelist).
  • You will sleep for a weekend or a week or a month.
  • You will eat something which contains actual vegetable content.
  • You will read a book or a poem or inadvertently stumble across something semi-decent on Netflix. It will make you think of something you haven’t thought of before, or something you have thought of before, but not for a very long time, so long, you have in fact forgotten all about it.
  • You will write a paragraph or two you don’t hate.
  • You will write a short story.
  • You will write another book.

 

Post Script:

I am very tired.

I am hiding out in Annaghmakerrig until I am not so tired.

I might write. I might just sleep and watch Netflix and read poetry.

I’m grand either way.

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