Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Uxbridge report.

Had a great evening in Uxbridge Library last night meeting with members of the Uxbridge Writers' group, and I think a few other people from other local writing groups who turned out.

Uxbridge library is huge, by the way: four storeys (and lots more stories, no doubt). There are lifts and everything, plus a spacious atrium with a glass roof. I was impressed. I'd like to say I filled the place, but hey, I'm not Neil Gaiman. I was very pleased with the turn-out, and it seems that some people even had to travel by tube to see me. I'm not sure I'd travel by tube to see me, so the fact that others did was, well, frankly, astonishing.

Of course, it's always daunting, not to say terrifying, to be confronted by rows of expectant faces. And yes there were rows, though I'm not saying exactly how many. This public performance aspect of having a book out is all very strange to me. It's weird hearing my own voice burble on, and realise that people are listening to me. I do have this urge to subvert my own efforts, which usually comes out in self-putdowns. It's an English trait, I think. And, to paraphrase Borges*, I can do a much better job of undermining myself than anyone else could.

Thankfully, Siobhan Curham was on hand to say wonderful things about the book. And Clare Harris, the Hillingdon Libraries Literature Officer, was also very generous in her comments. Immeasurable thanks to both of you.

I chose to read this bit.

I've never read it before to an audience and I have to admit I was very uncomfortable about reading out Rob's sexual preoccupations but I felt I had to do it, somehow. If there was an audience I could read material like this to, it had to be one made up of other writers, I felt.

Exhausted, drained, buzzing, elated, hungry afterwards. And today, knackered. Bit of a headache too.

No more readings on the horizon. The book enters its tailspin phase. Who knows if I'll be able to pull out of it...


*Thanks to Jeff Haas for bringing this wonderful Borges' quote to my attention: "Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself."

7 comments:

Lee said...

What a wonderful quote, which I shall print out and hang above my desk. I have a regular rota.

Matt Curran said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt Curran said...

Hi Roger

Readings are the one thing I'm getting nervous about. I might ask for some tips soon on how to cope with it all!

Have a good weekend

Matt

PS: Are you going to Lucy's launch?

PPS: Have you seen the latest Charkin Blog entry?! Hope your novel wasn't one of the unfortunates!

PPPS: Deleted the first post because it was full of typos!

Paul Campbell said...

Hi Roger

I just saw this item in the Writers' Guild news bulletin. For some reason it made me think of you...

Product placement in novels

Electrolux, the Swedish maker of fridges and washing machines have commissioned a novel to advertise the Electrolux brand name.

The company want to attract twenty something males who are allegedly “kitchen phobic”. The novel, written by Alex Mattis is called Men in Aprons and is about man who is dumped by his girlfriend for not doing any housework.

Electrolux hopes the book will turn male slobs into household gods.

Paul Campbell said...

Oops. I should have made myself clearer. It wasn't the reference to "male slobs" that made me think of you, it was the product placement in novels.

roger said...

Hi L.Lee, thanks for popping in. It kind of got to me too.

Matt, I was told by someone to read slowly. So I try to remember that. The temptation is to hurry so that you get through the ordeal faster. Another tip someone gave me is to pretend that it's not your book you're reading from. That it's this fantastic book you've discovered that you want to share with people. In other words, try to get some distance between you and the text. I went to one book launch where the author had got some actors to read passages, but she there was a reason for that - she had Parkinson's so it would not have been easy for her. But it was intersting. Thing is not everyone knows friendly actors.

Yes, I'm aiming to go to Lucy's launch.

I hadn't seen the Charkin blog entry but have noes. Jeepers, that's terrible. They are such great people at the Pan bookshop too. They were very supportive the launch. I can't believe it.

Paul, that's interesting. I hasten to say that I didn't get a penny from any company for any of the brand mentions in Taking Comfort. I'm not sure it counts as product placement, more like product displacement, as the book is kind of a critique of the whole brand cult/culture thing...

I don't mind you calling me a male slob. It kind of fits, some times. Though I was rushing round with a hoover (actually a Henry) this morning. Now then, shouldn't I get a few quid from Henry for that little mention?? (Don't know if I could have strung that out into a whole novel.)

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