Hubris, gratefulness, politesse?

I’ve spent a couple of days now, staring at the little heap of my books that was delivered on Monday.

They stare back.
I am paralysed by knowing what it is good, or fair, or right to do in this situation. I am sending books to people who have been instrumental in its genesis, and to whom I know it will be welcome as a mark of my esteem, if nothing else. These people include my excellent first reader, my best friend since High Shcool and my writing compatriot Bunny Goodjohn.

Then there are other people: important people, and ones that I would like to thank. Most notably A.L. Kennedy and Jonathon Porritt, both of whom gave generous and charming quotes for the book jacket.


Is it hubristic to send people a copy of a book they’ve had an advanced read of? Does it look arrogant? Would they prefer something else or would that look as if I don’t have confidence in my own book, or that I didn’t rate them highly enough to send them a copy? Well, I think they both know I rate them rather highly: Jonathon has been a leading contributor to the environmental field since I first entered it more than 20 years ago, and I’ve valued working alongside him tremendously. As for A.L. … well I’m on record as saying she is a goddess to me.

And yet I’m terrified that sending the damn books will seem brash, and not sending them will seem ungrateful and ungracious, and as a result the books are sitting on my dining room table, next to ready labelled envelopes which seem to grin at me maliciously with their open flaps whenever I pass.

And then, if I do send them, what to write in them? And why didn’t my parents send me to calligraphy classes as a child so that even if I can’t find the ‘right’ words I can produce some nice-to-look-at ones?

So I distract myself by stuffing seeds, sweets and limerick first lines into the flowerpots that are serving as goody bags for the launch, which somewhat eases my mind until I start to worry that nobody will turn up and that I will have to take all the flowerpots home again …

And then I go and crochet something, to take my mind off the subject that I was using to take my mind off the subject of the books ... this publishing stuff is actually quite stressful, you know?

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