Friday, 25 January 2013

Publication week, er fortnight

It was never like this for Jane Austen. She didn't have to say, 'I can't come for dinner yet, Mother, I'm busy tweeting.'  She never had her blog refuse to upload her photos or worry that she would be an egg on twitter forever. She can't have hesitated over requests from strange men wanting to be her friend on facebook.
Did she have to create a Facebook Fan page?  No, she definitely did not. Her constant interruptions were probably things like 'Jane, what did you do with the pink vase?' and  'hurry up, we've going to have tea with Mrs Composmentus' who was ubdoubtedly the most boring person in the world.

Links have become the very bane of my life, sometimes they land, sometimes they disappear between Facebook, me, twitter and wherever the hell else they should be. I am hopeful that sooner or later I will upload a picture of one of my books which is the right size. At the moment they are either so small that they can't be seen like postage stamps or so big that my friends on Facebook feel obliged to make comments because they can't see around the image. The small ones people are tactful about, God love them. I have never been quite so grateful to my friends and keep ringing them, asking stupid questions and I can hear the patience in their voices as they think, 'can this woman not do anything on her own'?  I can milk a goat, so there. Very useful of course.

This is the problem, all my skills are old. I touchtype, I can light a fire, I know how to gut mackerel. I should be doing one of these programmes on telly where people go off into the wild and live off the land. Okay, so I live in the middle of town these days and never venture further than M&S. Is it my fault I have to try and live in the modern world? I was so good at the old one.

My computer is objecting hugely to the way I am now spending hours a day sitting in front of it demanding it go back and forth to internet sites like something demented. My back isn't terribly happy about it either, now we come to mention it. Last night my computer kept assuring me that if I didn't want to look at stuff it wanted me to look at it was going to close down forever. The only thing which prevented me from throwing it out of the window is the fact that the window has been there since 1927 and has stained glass in it.

I did once build a house, with help of course. I had a child, let's not go there. Won't  be doing either of those things again. So why do I just not get technology?  I'm not that old, I think really there is no techie in me. And as being idle I don't do that. I think what I need is to become rich so that I can get somebody else to do all these things - oh, and the housework and pay the bills, and take the car to the garage and plan holidays. Don't you just hate that? All that detail.

Writing novels is all about detail and the hardest thing of all is editing where you go back and forth and back and forth among a hundred thousand words, wondering how long a character has been pregnant, whether Mr Standalone really did have brown eyes and why the important scenes have been put in twice or totally disappeared and that a certain character was introduced at the beginning and not mentioned again for a hundred pages. Then there is the problem when you write historicals as to the year Peter Pan came out, I got it wrong by a year when I wrote about it but some eagle eyed editor found it, thank the Lord.
Or which street in St Andrews had plane trees on it in 1900?  And as my agent pointed out just a couple of weeks ago, people in Durham did not sit outside tower houses on the river and drink chilled Chardonnay in 1910. Well, most of them anyway. On that note I shall leave it and no, I am not going back to the internet, I'm going into town probably to pick up a bottle of nicely chilled Chardonnay. Some things about the present are definitely good.


  1. I sympathise...sometimes I think 'the media is the message', as someone said about TV. Truer now than the 60's.

  2. Ooh, ouch! One wry smile here in sympathy - both for the internet sagas and the pesky editing details! You can also change one date and biology dictates the heroine's mother was 6 or 92 at the time of the birth ... :-)

    Great post, and I'm looking forward to 'Miss Appleby's Academy'!