Well that wasn’t too bad: I gave my first-ever talk to people who’d paid to be there and nobody heckled, threw anything, walked out before the end or even – as far as I could see – fell asleep. It felt quite strange to be sitting on a stage, looking at rows of my friends and their friends, all smiling at me encouragingly, but it went surprisingly quickly, and plenty of people had questions to ask.
Clearly one of the advantages of publishing your first book when you’re knocking on a bit is that you know plenty of people who might buy it. It may be the only advantage, but it’s better than nothing. It means that instead of listening to you talking endlessly about the book you want to publish, your friends get to hear you talking repetitively about the book you’ve finally published, but at least it makes decisions about Christmas presents a bit easier for them this year.
The questions did make me realise that it’s quite a while since I finished the book, and as I have an memory span that would make a goldfish proud there’s a fair chance I may not be able remember enough about what I wrote to give sensible answers. It made me slightly sad to think that I’ll never again live with those characters who occupied so much of my thoughts for so many years; not sad enough to reread the book, though.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, talking to a friend’s book group this evening should be a piece of cake. Unfortunately I have to go to a talk organised by PEN on taxation first, as I’m beginning to panic about my first tax return. I’m hoping that all my questions will be answered, but I doubt it’s that simple. A tax return provides an excellent excuse for not writing because completing it is compulsory, and I’m sure I’ll be able to spin it out for a while yet…