Monday, 12 October 2009

Focus Pulling

The last month has vanished in a blur of writing, interspersed with dashing down to the beach to ensure my legs still function, and the mandatory eating and sleeping (both badly). But a couple of highlights leap out at me. Firstly because they were fun and secondly because I learnt something from each of them.

The first was a meet-and-greet for myself and three other authors at our publisher's swish offices on the Embankment in London. It involved meeting a whole bunch of the team of Little,Brown UK who are responsible for making our novels appear on the shelves of the bookstores and supermarkets etc. Magically they transform a dog-eared manuscript into a bright and glossy book. I chatted with editors, copyeditors, cover designers, people in PR, in marketing, in UK sales, in overseas sales and many more. Plus, of course, the CEO herself, the impressive and charming Ursula Mackenzie. What a back-up team I have!

Sometimes when closeted in my study for weeks at a time, glued to my keyboard, writing feels a very solitary occupation, so it was good to be reminded that it's not. This lovely team of young people is bursting with commitment and energy to keep my books rocking and rolling. And they are used to authors. They understand our weird frailties. It's great to know there's a safety net out there - even if it is wielded with an occasional crack of the whip!

The other highlight was when I gave a talk at a Book Festival in Appledore. Dreamy blue skies, the sigh of somnolent waves and one of the prettiest little seaside towns on the north coast of Devon. The perfect setting. The Festival was warm and welcoming, expertly organised by Carol Saumarez and her band of enthusiasts. I had a great day out.

So what did I learn? That I need to get away from the shackles of my desk more often. I have a tendency to narrow my focus to my writing, a real bad habit. So I'm widening it - taking in the state of my kitchen cupboards and my cat's claws. Both are crying out for attention!

Which means I now have a new new motto: Just write - but hey, don't forget to lunch. Those authors I told you that I met at the meet-and-greet? Bernie Strachan and Louise Candlish. Together we're widening our focus on to a tasty crabmeat roulade and a colourful pinot in London's Covent Garden. Wish us luck.