I used to do a lot of wishing. First star of the night, birthday candles, lucky beach pebbles with a hole through them, you name the superstition, and I made a wish on it. And now one of my wishes is coming true. Let's hope not all of them do, or else I’m going to be a very busy girl trying to cope with all the guys I fancied at fourteen turning up on my doorstep declaring their undying love for me, but this one wish is more than enough for me to contend with at the moment.
My book is being published.
And it’s all a little scary. Of course it's fantastic, amazing, exciting, and wonderful, but it is a little scary. I’ve never earnt more than £4.50 an hour (and that was for being the worlds worst filing clerk). I’ve never owned more than four pairs of shoes (and that includes the high heels that I dig out for those special occasions when I want to totter around like Tina Turner after a particularly brutal colonic irrigation). The most notable times I’ve been in the newspapers before, it was for winning an Easter bonnet competition, and then for getting good marks in my GCSE exams (they made me wear somebody else’s clothes for the photo shoot, stripping a poor student bare, because they felt my grungey Nirvana t-shirt and ripped jeans weren’t quite the right image for the school.)
And now, it’s like a different world I’m diving into, Doc Marten’ed feet first.
When I made those wishes, all those years ago, this wasn’t how I imagined it would be. I imagined lying on a beach, or sipping coffee in Tuscany, typing away dramatically at an old trusty typewriter, pens in my hair and a wild glint in my eye. I imagined being wildly confident, laughing rakishly, snatching the final page from my machine and waving it triumphantly in the air. I’d trot back to my little house in the country, surrounded by numerous cats, and drink a glass of red wine whilst on the phone to the publishers.
The reality is somewhat different. The reality is me sitting in a rather compact house, in pyjamas, grazing on food, sustaining myself on tea, looking particularly dishevelled. The reality is I can afford to go to the dentists for the first time in years (and let me tell you, playing dental catch-up is the least fun you can have both orally and financially). The reality is that I still have to load the dishwasher, still have to traipse around the house, harvesting the trails of socks my other half seems to shed everywhere, and still worrying whether the remnants left in the fridge are edible or toxic. The reality where, no matter how smartly I try to dress, a cleavage as significant as mine pushes all clothing styles firmly into the bracket of “slutty barmaid”. This reality is the one where my socks still don’t match.
And, at magnificent odds with this reality, is the other one.
The one where I worry what the reviewers will think -– I’ve never written an entire book before, preferring to wander only into short stories, or fragments of unfinished books. The one where I realise that everybody in the meetings I go to in London is impeccably dressed, and my clothes are from the local supermarket. The one where they talk about film rights, and translations rights, and audio rights, and computer game rights. The one where I approached an accountant to help me out with my earnings, and admitted how I was new and naïve, and they responded by trying to charge me £500 A MONTH, and registered my company name to themselves, so I had to buy it back off them. The one where I go to places that serve champagne, instead of cheap beer. The one where old friends who haven’t bothered speaking to me for years are suddenly re-emerging, convinced that I am waddling around the house wearing Versace and a self-satisfied grin, or not so subtly desperate for me to pass on their story (no matter how dire, and believe me, some really are) to my agents or publishers. The one where I worry that if I’d have known I might creep into the public eye, I’d have behaved a damn sight better when I was younger. Or at least given a false name…
My world feels all wonky and unbalanced right now.
The real reality is, for the first time since I was eighteen, I don’t owe my credit card a dime, let alone my soul or the promise of a kidney. I can afford to buy fresh fruit, and a newspaper every day. I can afford to have fillings. The real reality is, I’m damned proud of my book, and I’m damned scared of what the world will think of it. The real reality is, nothing's really changed, and everything has.
I made a lot of wishes when I was younger, and I didn’t give much thought to what would happen if any of them came true. Now I need to start making a whole load more wishes. I wish my book does well. I wish people will like it. I wish that those photos of me, dancing around in my bra with an alien statue don’t ever surface. I wish my teeth weren’t wonky, because if I do sell the film rights, everyone in Hollywood has such perfect teeth. I wish I knew which forks and knives to use at posh dinner functions. And I wish that other people reading this, who have the same wishes as I do and did, get their wishes to come true too. If it can happen to the girl with wonky teeth, too few shoes, who daydreams of cats and pens in her hair, and a day without dirty socks and suspect dairy products in the fridge, then it can happen to anyone.
That’s the beauty of wishes. Make enough, hope enough, try enough, and I’m living proof that some come true.
They might not be exactly how you imagined them, but then nothing ever is.
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
8.20.04 @ 9:56a
It's going to be available in the US eventually, right? Maybe on Amazon?
8.20.04 @ 10:00a
Yeah, it's being pubished with McElderry books, Simon and Schuster, so it should be in bookshops. I hope so at least!
8.20.04 @ 10:06a
8.20.04 @ 11:03a
Wonderful read... no wonder you're published. I feel envy and happiness and pride for you. Congrats!
8.20.04 @ 11:59a
Just don't publish under the nom de plume "Joe Procopio." It's a bad direction in which to go.
8.20.04 @ 1:50p
Awesome. I can't wait to read the book and praise it extravagantly to my friends.
8.20.04 @ 1:59p
Well, its a children's book, so you guys are slightly out of my target audience range, but hey - what's a thirty year old if not three ten years olds, stapled together, and sprinkled with nuerotic thoughts and a smattering of domestic chores?
8.20.04 @ 2:50p
Hey, some of us have kids! And we want first-edition copies!
8.20.04 @ 3:29p
Besides, it'll look great next to my Dr. Seuss collection.
8.20.04 @ 3:51p
Hey, some of us have kids! And we want first-edition copies!
Autographed and inscribed goes without saying, right?
8.20.04 @ 4:20p
I want mine bronzed. Every page.
8.20.04 @ 4:46p
I read kid's book all the time (no snide remarks, please). Can. not. wait. to. read. it.
And I especially love that you can be a published author and use words like "wonky" in normal sentences.
8.20.04 @ 8:10p
I, too, love reading kids books. I find them relaxing.
8.21.04 @ 7:18a
I find it just fits my vocabulary structure better.
8.22.04 @ 4:57a
Dr. Seuss is one of my heroes.
8.24.04 @ 11:27p
Damn, woman, this is quite exciting!!!!
what's a thirty year old if not three ten years olds, stapled together And this type of view is exactly why you're going places, baby.
Are you allowed to tell us more about it yet?
Until now, you may not have known how innocent and childlike your IM compatriots are. And for all of us who love kid's books and cartoons and long to be animated voice characters,(ahem) pleasepleaseplease let me sponge a "I'll clean out your trailer" role in your movie, even if all I do is call the dogs. I promise to be very, very good and eat all my turnips.
8.25.04 @ 2:33a
I'll buy "childlike" but "innocent" is pushing it some, no?
8.25.04 @ 8:45a
Well, I'm sure we're all innocent of something.