Things seem to have gone a bit flat, and I’m feeling that way too. The third book is out, on schedule, in the shops and on Kindle. Now what? I’m schlepping round the libraries and WIs in Cumbria, talking about ‘Fallout’ and how and why I wrote it the way I did. I’m defending my decision to tackle the nuclear issue, and all that follows from that. I’m explaining why I left the ending of this last part of the trilogy somewhat ambivalent, which I did, after worrying for weeks about the final chapter. I get little shreds of feedback: a second hand comment that the book was fine but the nuclear stuff was too technical and boring, followed by another that the scenes set in the Windscale plant are riveting. Different strokes for different folks obviously and you can’t hope to please everyone, but it’s unsettling nonetheless. Today an email arrives saying that there are words missing in the Kindle version, and down I go again into the slough of despond, even before I’ve checked it myself and fixed the problem, if there is one.
I suppose it’s down to my inexperience as a writer. For the last twenty years or so in my other ‘work’ in education I’ve been more certain of myself, the skills I have developed seem clearer and the feedback more immediate. None of that seems to happen in the writing business, or at least not in the self-published writing business. I don’t have the luxury of a publishing team or an agent reassuring me about what’s happening, and that the decisions I/we made about the plot and the cover and and everything else were the right ones. I’m plagued by intermittent doubt, and yearn for someone who understands books to tell me that I’ve done a good job with this trilogy, not just as a testament to life on the Cumbrian coast in the twentieth century but for the writing itself.
Next week I’m going to the lunch to celebrate the Lakeland Book of the Year for 2014. I haven’t made the shortlist in the one category that might apply, but I want to be there, just to be around people who are into books and publishing and this wonderful place where we live. I’ve even bought a dress, and may, possibly, have the confidence to wear it. Maybe that will cheer me up.