Last Friday afternoon I was speaking to my brother on the phone. “The thing is,” I told/bored him, “I’d write this book anywhere. If I had to sleep in a field and scrawl it on stone walls I’d still write it. Not that it’s a book, really, more a novella. God, I hate saying novella. Small book. If I had to write this small book in a field, I would do. If I had to.”
Regular readers will know that I’ve taken the next four or five weeks off to write a small book. Regular, unfunny readers will be thinking ‘Taken the next four or five weeks off FROM WHAT?’ right about here. Good one, regular unfunny readers. Regular readers will also know that I’m not writing this book in a field – not yet, at least – rather a nice big house in the country that someone has asked me to look after until the end of the week.
Tomorrow sees me start the actual writing of the small book. In my mind it feels as if I’m embarking on some mission to space or preparing to go up a river to assassinate Colonel Kurtz but I’m not doing either of those things, all I’m doing is writing a fucking (small) book. Still, it’s daunting. Anyone can write a small book in four or five weeks. Not anyone can write a good small book in four or five weeks, fewer still an excellent one. I’d like to write an excellent one. If you had chanced upon the ‘Book Notes’ that I’ve been writing over the last couple of days, you would think that I haven’t got it in me to write an excellent one. Let’s hope you’re wrong.
But it isn’t just the writing of the small book that’s bothering me, it’s all the stuff that surrounds it. Once completed, I need to have it typewritten, copyedited, I need a cover design, I need to get an ISBN, I need to get it available on Amazon, I need loads more other things too – all in the space of a week. I don’t know what any of these things mean, really, or how they work. I’m not sure why I think I can sort out all these things that I know very little about in such a short space of time. There are also some very complicated copyright issues that I need to deal with too, but I’m hoping that by not dealing with them that they will somehow drift away.
The small book also needs to be reviewed. It must do, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing things like ‘REVIEWS???’ all over my notes with a list of potential reviewers who I barely – or less than barely: radiatory – know. I have a list. John Crace, of The Guardian, is on there. I’ve emailed him once. Oliver Burkeman, of The Guardian, is on there. I’ve emailed him once. Karl Webster is on there.
Regardless, I’m going to see this whole thing through. For three reasons. One, because I’ve never really seen anything through before in my life – it could be good for me. Two, because I’ve told everyone about it. Initially I was hoping to get a column in The Guardian’s Books Blog Section – or whatever the hell it’s called – that I was snappily calling Can I Research, Write, Publish, Market and Sell a Thousand Copies of a Book Before Christmas 2011? but I’ve since decided that no, The Guardian isn’t going to be on the receiving end of my colourful weekly columns and that, yes, The Guardian can go and fuck itself and that, yes, this is a defence mechanism: if I snub The Guardian over my weekly brilliance before they snub me then it’s some sort of victory. Besides, you’re my audience. I’ve come to the conclusion – quite late on – that I’d rather write about my experiences of the writing and marketing of a small book for Pitching the World readers than I would for Guardian readers.
The third reason for having to write this small book can be found in the 20-point list that I made yesterday. Item 19 reads: Is it worth keeping a longer diary – 500 words a day or so – so at the very least [underlined three times] I can write a short book about writing a short book? Or I could perhaps include some of my diary – like sleeve notes?
I should be fucking sectioned for this. Nobody in their right mind wants to be reading a book about writing a book unless it’s Out of Sheer Rage. And sleeve notes? SLEEVE NOTES? Two days without talking to another human being is all it takes before thinking that my grand, 30,000 word small book is going to be so mind blowing and deep that it needs sleeve notes.
This small book’s getting written, and it starts tomorrow, and there’s not going to be any fucking sleeve notes.
Sleeve notes, earlier.