to bloggers who've asked -
Cut Short will be available in the USA and Canada
Before I launch on today's topic, I'd like to thank all bloggers who contributed to the discussion arising from my last post.
This week's post is about my experience as a new writer.
My book is going to be published - how can I be reluctant for it to be seen? Until yesterday, the only two people who had read my work were my publisher and editor, apart from my accounts of dead bodies which I read to a retired doctor to check that my flights of fancy were plausible. Yesterday I went to a seminar offering tips to authors on how to give a reading, where we were invited to read a short extract of our work aloud. My reading is fluent and I have faith in my writing. Why did I feel so nervous in front of an audience whom I knew, rationally, to be sympathetic?
This led me to wonder: does everyone expect to be judged, or is it just me? Is it human nature, or do we live in a society that is becoming increasingly judgemental? Pupils at my school assume they're in trouble if a teacher wants to see them, staff summoned by the headmaster expect problems.
So my question is: have we developed a culture of complaint not appreciation? How often do we grumble when things fail to go our way? We resent having to queue, we grow impatient with slow service, we feel aggrieved when machines break down. We expect everything to work efficiently, and are angry when it doesn't. But are we happy when things work normally? Do we thank people when they do a satisfactory job? Or do we expect it? That's their job after all. I was once so happy with an IT technician for fixing some slight problem on my computer that I emailed him and and he told me that in twenty years of doing his job, I was the second person to thank him. That shocked me. I don't claim to be any better than other people - if I'm honest, I'm generally more impatient and curt than most. I just wonder whether, in a general way, the lack of support we show to strangers is changing our expectation of how they will treat us and we're spinning into a downward spiral of mutual distrust and social unease.
Or am I just feeling paranoid that no one will like my book?