I'm a very private person. Yes, right, we all think, if she's so private what the hell is she doing here, putting herself in the forefront, needing publicity to sell her books. There isn't anything very private about being constantly available, about facebook, twitter and all the other social networks which I'm advised I should get in amongst if I want to sell books and of course I do want to be read. You don't write for yourself. Dylan Thomas used to say that if you do then nobody will want to intrude on such a private party. But part of me wants to run away, to my caravan in the dale and be gloriously unavailable. Alas, it won't do. I went to the library and got out a book which is called Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies by Marsha Collier.
The librarian was most apologetic. But no, the poor lad could see that technologically I am good with wheelbarrows. My writing friends have offered to help and I will try hard to fit in with today's world but it doesn't come naturally. Perhaps that's why I write historicals, I don't really want to be here.Am I hiding from the present and scared of the future?
The funny thing about it is that I am a natural show off, I love to get up in front of a huge audience and talk about my work and make people laugh but the thing I like best is the writing. All the rest is decoration. So in order to keep on doing the writing I must be publicity conscious and do the social networking which comes as naturally to me as things like ice skating and skiing, swimming and just about anything which needs physical co ordination. I don't seem to have mental co ordination either somehow for all this stuff which other people find easy and exciting.
There is a song which Bruce Springsteen wrote and sings, called Cover Me. It's my favourite song. It's the Marlon Brando idea that we are all selling something and the guy in the song just wants to run home and be warm and safe.
My safe place is a little garden room at the back of my house where I retreat in the evenings and go into the past that I have created. I call on my memories and my experiences and the things that I have learned, both painful and otherwise. I dredge them up and haul them into the limelight. I want people to read them, to enjoy them, to gain pleasure from them and to be able to take them with confidence into that safe place which we all need. Now I need to haul myself into the limelight too.
The contradiction is that writing has no safe place. That's what makes it so hard and that's why I do it. I surround myself with safety and then I write and the illusion spills away.