Somebody has been in touch with me (hi Matt!) because he found me through Googling – not so surprising, perhaps but what he Googled was having his window hit by a snipe and that led him to me. His snipe (in Birmingham) also flew off fairly soon after the shocking impact with plate glass. He, like me, was shocked by the experience. It just goes to show that there is nothing quite a strange as reality. Also, and not particularly surprisingly, it shows that if you share details of your life online, you may find the Venn diagrams of your existence intersect with the lives of others in some very unlikely ways.
Back to book promotion, or not, as the case may be. “Minding my Peas and Cucumbers” seems to be a popular title – in the sense that people tell me they like it, as a name for a book and in the sense that people are placing pre-orders on Amazon. Terrifyingly, the first pre-order was placed before I had actually delivered the final copy. Even more terrifyingly, the copy has been accepted and the book is unstoppable save (presumably) by Act of God. I have now stepped back from the writing frenzy and reflected on the truth: while I have changed names and locations, and in some cases nationalities and genders, I have been writing about real people who may try to indentify themselves in the narrative.
Excellent agent breezily pointed out that this could be A Good Thing as it could encourage sales and A Better Thing if it leads to the material for book 2. I envisage myself waking up with a horse’s head in my bed. Actually it wouldn’t be a horse’s head, as I don’t have a horse, it would be the decapitated tops of my prize globe artichokes, set to flower edibly for the first time this summer. She points out that a book about me having to start again on a new allotment site having been hounded out of my old one could be quite funny. My laughter is hollow.
In an attempt to remind myself that I also write fiction, I took an excellent workshop last weekend with Shaun Levin, organised by New Writing South. It dealt with all things marine, from sea creatures to sociological observation of tourists and was a fascinating and dense exploration of what the sea can mean in literature. It certainly unlocked some insights into Max, the unreliable hero of the 1920s novel I am supposedly revising.
I am also rewriting my eco-thriller, although slowly. And you know what? I’m really bad at re-anything. Except re-reading, which I have also been doing this week, as Sarah Salway’s book, Something Beginning With has been reissued and rightly so – it’s one of those rare books that defies easy categorisation but lends itself to seductively easy reading. I’d forgotten just how pleasing a journey it is to read a really well written piece of fiction and I recommend it to you if you’re looking for a Christmas gift book.