It’s actually happening. I’m going to have a book published. The Fear of Flying Club is in a state of metamorphosis. No longer a virtual hungry caterpillar, cocooned in the refuge of my laptop, in a matter of months it will be spreading its wings and fending for itself in the big wide world.
Tempting as it is to fast-forward in my head to the moment where I’m standing in a bookshop, proudly admiring a copy of my own handiwork, there are many practicalities to attend to before then: Final edits to submit and agree, a cover design to choose, distribution agreements to reach, but most pressingly on my mind, a launch party to plan.
My close friends and family will all testify that, in all honesty, I’m not known for being a ‘planner’. I’m much more of a ‘let’s just wing-it and it’ll be fine’ sort of person.
Past experience has assured me that if you leave something important unattended to for long enough, some well-meaning and far more able family member or friend will panic before you do and sort it out! Which is why I’m thanking my lucky stars that the team at ManxLitfest (who need to take a great deal of credit for getting my novel to where it is right now) have offered to organise my launch party.
I’ve recently come out of a meeting to discuss the launch. I’m thrilled and grateful. Very grateful. It means that I don’t have to think about hiring a venue or organising catering. They are even inviting some guests as well as my own. And lastly, they are going to sort out all of the publicity.
I think that was the last thing I heard. After that there was a lot of talk about interviews and speeches and standing on a stage in front of lots of people and talking about my book and my life as a writer. To be honest it all went a bit blury.
I came home, called my husband and told him that I couldn’t do it! Nobody enjoys public speaking. I know this. I don’t mean to make out that it is going to be any different for me, than for anyone else, but IT IS! I have a genuine phobia about it.
I also have a fear of flying and of moths, but I can honestly say that if I was to be given a choice between all of the above I’d rather take a trans-atlantic flight wearing a head-torch with a swarm of flappy brown flying insects for company over getting up on stage and making a speech.
No contest. And the irony of having written a book about a group of people suffering from a phobia is not lost on me.
So what it the worst that can happen? I’ve been asking myself this for several hours now. Well, let’s see. I could trip up on stage, forget my words, tremble, shake, wee myself, say something inappropriate, get accidentally drunk, ramble, get the giggles.
There are actually, infinite ways in which I could screw this up spectacularly. But am I going to have a go? I think I have to. I need to try to do it for myself, for my children (who look up to me as a role model), and for Frannie, Rachel, McKenzie, Jalil and Petal – the heros of the novel who have given me the opportunity to stand on that stage and be heard.
Will it all turn out all right? I don’t know. Perhaps it will, or perhaps it will be the disaster that I prophesied. Whatever happens, it should give me some good material to draw upon in future.