The rarely wordless one becomes mute

I am struggling to know what to say on this blog at present. My book ‘Minding My Peas and Cucumbers’ is due out on 7 March, but people have already been in touch to tell me they have received copies ordered from the Book Depository.

There is nothing more guaranteed to send a writer into neuroses than waiting to hear what people think of his or her work. The truly ghastly part of this process is that you wait, and wait, and wait … and almost never get any feedback at all.

There’s professional feedback, of course. The kind, measured or sometimes scathing or schadenfreude-laden words offered up by other writers or professional reviewers, which can be soothing (or lacerating) and will usually remain engraved on the psyche of even the most robust personality.

But what the writer actually craves is feedback from the average reader. The person who picks up the book in Waterstones or Tescos or in the local library, and decides to read it. Why did they? What did they think when they did?

It’s difficult, and sometimes demeaning, to obtain this kind of information. Waiting for it can cause you to spin on your writerly axis until you develop a kind of mental vertigo. Seeking it out can make you seem needy, neurotic and possibly stalkerly. (Stalkerish?) Not getting it seems like writing into the void. Getting it often seems like a slap in the face with a frozen cod (yes, I’ve had one: it nearly hospitalised me, but this is not the time to tell the story, and it was only half a frozen cod, to be honest).

So I wait. Wondering. Hoping. Fearing that I am about to become that worst of all things – a writer whose written page might as well be unwritten …

And when I’m not doing that, I worry about the book launch. 22 March, 2011, 18:30-20:30 at West Blatchington Windmill in Hove, if you happen to be around. Competitions, chutney tastings, fun, goody bags and general good humour, or at least so I hope.
Yes, it really is in a windmill. Do come along and have fun. I promise not to ask if you’ve read the book, or what you thought of it …