A Catalogue of My Excuses

I am very much the kind of human that makes excuses, qualifications and clarifications before everything. I serve a meal and warn that it might not be okay because the peppers are a fortnight old or because I got all wrapped up in Wittertainment and forgot to stir for a while or because it’s Tuesday and salt has new kinds of chemical reaction to courgette on Tuesdays, or whatever, not because I want to be blameless, but rather the opposite – I want you to know that if my food happens to suck, I already know why and am sorry for that but have made the decision to serve it to you anyway.

This is very much the feeling I’m having about the self-publishing thing (aiming for Sunday, if you’re curious for a timeframe). I know there are rather epic flaws and fails within this book, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to read it. I hope there aren’t major, serious inconsistencies. I seriously, desperately hope there aren’t any typos or spelling mistakes. I am doing my very best to remove any words that don’t need to be there.

That’s the thing, really. I’m doing my very best. I need that to be good enough.

There has been a time at which I’ve really wanted to go through ‘traditional’ avenues, but, thinking about it in every possible way of late, I’ve realised I don’t think of self-published books as being any less of a book at all, and therefore why wait? This isn’t a book I think will sell millions. I hope, I really hope there’s someone somewhere out there with whom it resonates, somehow: that’d be more than enough, and a happy success. I want to see what I can do with what and who I already have, without paying anyone to give me their version of it, without having someone else chop it about or tell me I must.

It’s an odd book. The pacing is not perfect. Or even good, perhaps. I love things that unravel. I love things that come together at the end. I love endings. I love to know what happened. Why it happened. How. I want to answer questions, and leave space for imaginings. I want to bundle a spider’s web together and make it into a really smooth, neat ball of complexity.

I’m embarrassed to say how hard I’ve been trying, how much I want this to be a legitimate, worthwhile read. But it doesn’t have to be that for everyone. It isn’t everyone’s kind of thing. This is why I don’t know how to sell it, or explain it. I don’t want to tell you the story on the cover: that’s what reading’s for. But blurbs are important for a lot of people, so it seems, and, well, you only need to look at the kind of rating system the internet enjoys on its recreational reading to see that people don’t like to be surprised by certain kinds of content.

So, those excuses.

– I wrote a book I wanted to read. Specifically, just what I wanted. There’s no reason it should correlate with what anyone else wants to read, but, then again, a lot of people love things I love just like I love them, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t either.

– It starts with a dream. Apparently this is the worst possible most cliche narrow-minded atrocious thing one can do with a YA novel. I shan’t start another novel like that. But that is, regardless, where this novel begins, and I’m not going to change that.

– Speaking of cliche, I don’t think anyone looks at themselves in the mirror for a long while, but there’s a good chance they do. I don’t think that’s the worst thing either. I look at myself in the mirror every day. And think about what I see.

– I don’t really mind being a cliche. I don’t mind if you can’t finish it. I kind of need to say that. It’s okay if you don’t like my things. That’s interesting too.

– I don’t think this is a big thing for anyone that isn’t me. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 48 hours contemplating things like being British and worrying/wondering what people think of who you are and what you do because, damnit, the opinions of people you love and respect are important. I’ve wavered multiple times over the sentence “I’m a writer” or “I’m trying to become a writer” because there seem to be so many implications beyond “I am a purveyor of word collections” there. Regardless of whether there legitimately are or aren’t, I feel them.

– I intend to write a lot of books. Books vary in quality. I want to write a lot of different things, a lot of different styles. I want to improve. I don’t want – at this point – to sculpt and shape what I’m doing into a format. I want to start by being honest about where I am and what I can do alone.

– The beginning of my book is stilted and wonky. But at the beginning, my characters are stilted and wonky. I’m trying to look at this as us all learning together, and I think there’s something nice in that. But I wonder if readers will be so forgiving? Should they have to be? No, absolutely not. Hmm.

– I suppose what I’m saying is, I want you to know that I’m both terrified of people thinking I’m getting above myself by putting what I’m doing into the world the way I’ve made it, and wishing that I could say, I’m a writer and have 100% of the people I say that to find that a tangible and applicable description.


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