Today is New Year’s Day, 2016.
It’s been a cloudy, cold, intermittently wet day here in London. Somehow my husband and I managed to start the year without hangovers, despite drinking two bottles of champagne and chasing it down with whisky before crawling to bed around 3am. Perhaps we aren’t getting too old for this after all.
Today my husband also fixed my phone, which has been driving me batshit crazy for months. It was one of those things I just don't have time to sort out. It finally has enough memory to update all its apps. WhatsApp finally works again and in it I found many messages I had missed over the past few months, including one from a friend who, it turns out, quit her job before Christmas and is now cycling around Canada. I had no idea. I’d seen her snaps on social media but thought she was just on holiday.
I suppose that’s a metaphor for how I feel about life in general right now. I finally have enough memory, enough brain power, to plug back in to the world and life now that The Latte Years is ready to be released.
The process of having a book published has been nothing like I thought it would be, at all. Every author says that and I didn’t believe them. It’s been a rollercoaster, in the most incredible, amazing and challenging ways. One minute you’re fantasising about what it will be like to see a book with your name on the front cover. The next you’re running along a frosty street at 6:30am to get to the sorting office when it opens, because a copy of your book has arrived, but as you work full time, you weren’t home when it got there. Later that day, you’re sitting in a cafe on your lunch break, reading it, and people walk past the window, burrowing themselves deeper in their coats against the cold, back to their offices, life keeps going.
Eventually you remember to look up and sip your coffee, and it hits you that this isn’t just a book you’ve borrowed from the library. You wrote it.
Books aren’t books to you any more. You know what the author went through to write it. It is all-consuming, intense, exhilarating, powerful, exciting, frustrating, even heartbreaking. You know about deadlines, about getting up at 6am to write before work, writing in the evenings, writing for nine to ten hour stretches at the weekends, your social life dropping dead. You know about days when you forget to eat, you’re so caught up. You know about drafting and redrafting. You know about cutting 50,000 words. You know about the frustration of feeling golden sentences forming in your brain and your typing fingers not able to catch them before they slip away. You know about fighting that nagging voice in your head that tells you you’re a fraud, you’re going to be a laughing stock, that you’ll never be good enough. You know about the sick dread you feel when you realise it’s over, it's gone to print, and you’ve just thought of something else you wish you’d had time to change.
But then you realise your book is a bit like you. Flawed, but still lovable. Still able to find a place in the world. And lucky - so very bloody lucky - to have so many people who believe in it.
And that’s why I can’t wait to do it again. I’m already writing the next one.
So, that’s my wish for 2016. To keep writing. To learn, to grow, to push myself. But to keep going, above all.
What’s yours, my friend?
Much love, Phil xx