Reality bites

When you’re writing you are, on the whole, not thinking about what will happen when your writing goes out into the world on its own. You’re thinking about which words cosy up nicely to other words, which words have become difficult house guests and need to be shown the door. You’re thinking about whether the story works or if that metaphor is a bit over the top. You’re thinking about the next cup of tea and whether it’s acceptable to have yet another handful of biscuits to go with it. What you are not always thinking about is people you have never met reading your book.

And this is where I am.

In the next few days my book is being printed. And, if I’m lucky, people I’ve met and people I’ve never met will read it. Exciting? Yes. Frightening? Yes, a little. Anxiety-inducing? Most definitely.

But why the fear and anxiety? Isn’t this what we dream about? What we sometimes give up time with loved ones for – often for no pay or recognition? Yes, of course. But, to quote a short story by Delmore Schwartz (inspired by an epigraph in a volume of Yeats’ poetry), in dreams begin responsibilities. And this is the source of my anxiety: I am responsible for what I’ve written. And once it’s out there, it’s out there – there’s no dragging it back indoors and stuffing it out of sight at the back of the wardrobe.

So this is where the notion of responsibility comes into it – I will have to be answerable for any wrong facts, any errors of judgement, anything which is deemed to be not quite right.

All I can say in my defence is, I’ve written as honestly and as well as I can and I’ve tried my best to research any facts that I’ve used. But, as the authors of some books say, if there are any errors in there they are purely my fault.

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