Sailing ships and heavy gold
Get over it?

99% boredom, 1% Barbra Streisand

I got home yesterday evening, after a day spent doing things other than writing, and switched on the computer. When at last it was ready to chunter off and pick up the day's email, one that came in was from my publisher. Now they don't bombard me with stuff, and I'm not expecting anything this week, so was this big news or small, good news or bad? Either way, it and a whole lot of other online stuff would need dealing with, so I had an excuse for not sitting down at the computer straight away.

I changed out of my funeral-going outfit, got the supper out of the freezer, went to the loo, made a cup of tea, opened the post, tickled the top of my maths-homework-doing daughter's head, went upstairs to the study, drew the curtains, adjusted the lights, sat down and tackled the spam, approved the blog comments, checked the stats... But of course I couldn't help wondering all the time what Headline was emailing about. Since my chief professional skill is to take a small piece of reality and imagine outwards as far as it will go, I'm quite capable of imagining just about anything, though at first I kept within the bounds of likelihood. The proofs on their way? A big step forwards towards publication but dealing with them is a real chore. The cover? A bit early, and very, very nerve-racking, but also very, very exciting. Cover copy? Earlier still, and (some might be surprised to know) a slightly lower pitch of nerves. Some problem with the copy-edit or the proofs which would be work and/or worry? A new assistant introducing herself? Always nice to meet someone new. A hugely delayed publication date for A Secret Alchemy? My editor leaving? (Help! Oh, please, no!) The Prince Maurice Prize has been cancelled? Surely not, but my imagination's really out of hand now, and since writing my new novel's proscribed I can't stop myself getting fictional here instead: all the other long-listees have scratched and The Mathematics of Love has won now by default (would that be better, or worse, than winning - eventually - by competition?). It was all a mistake and TMOL's not on the list at all? Some creationist has planted a bomb which they'll detonate if Headline don't strike this particular spawn of the anti-Christ off their list. Barbra Streisand has offered hundreds of thousands for the movie rights to TMOL, but only if she can write the songs and star...

Sometimes I think that being an author, too, is ninety-nine percent boredom and one percent... not terror, exactly, but certainly stomach-churning emotions of one sort or another, from stage-fright to the pre-mouse-click shakes. Fortunately once I'd cast Yentl as Lucy from TMOL, or worse still Anna, I got the giggles, and clicked on the email from Headline without even really noticing I'd decided to. Just as well. Could I confirm, again, it said, that I'd checked A Secret Alchemy, and there were no outstanding copyright or libel issues. Copy of Headline's advice sheet attached, for my further information. Maybe the one percent is anti-climax.

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