When I was a kid I wanted to be an author and the image I had in my mind was of me walking into a book shop, picking up a copy of my own book from the shelves, looking at my name there on the cover and then taking it to the counter and buying it.
That, if you like, was the dream. So now, when I am in a position to live it, have I done so? The answer is nope.
My latest book is stocked in a fair few book stores, some so close to my home that only someone too lazy to live could avoid buying it for reasons of convenience. Yet I still haven’t done it – why not?
I suppose it demonstrates the difference between youthful dreams and grown up reality. It was a pointless ambition even then and now seems more so. I have copies of my book – plenty of them. I sell them directly to those who ask me – with a spider scrawl of a signature on the title page. And I attend book signings, festivals and the like when requested so I need books for that too. I have one coming up in a couple of weeks in fact – at the library in the lovely English town of Hereford – be there or be unfashionable.
So, I own more copies of my books than I need – I don’t require another. I even have a personal copy of each of my two published novels on my book shelves at home – rubbing shoulders with tomes by more eminent authors.
And don’t get me started with the money. When one of my books sells in a store I get less than a pound from the £9 it costs. So I might as well go and flush the cash down the loo to save going out in the rain to the book shop.
I suppose, when I was young, I thought that if a person had their book on the shelf of a high street store it meant that they were doing rather well for themselves as an author – that they’d ‘made it’. Now of course I have a different perspective on that too – I’m still literary small fry.
My book’s available in some stores, not all, and there’s still a long way to go to reach the dream my younger self thought I’d be celebrating now with an irrational imaginary purchase.