FIRSTLY, a couple of publications to announce, of which I’m very proud and about which I’m very excited:
THE HOME, now available from Nightjar Press.‘Wildly original and provocative. Like Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, I can’t get it out of my mind’ – Dennis Etchison. Limited edition, print only – get your copy before it sells out.
THIN PLACES – an omnibus comprising of THE LEAPING, THE THING ON THE SHORE, and THE RAVENGLASS EYE. A body of work that garnered the review quote on the home page of this very website. ‘Fletcher has a most distinctive voice, and convinces me that there may be some truth at last in those rumours about a renaissance in British supernatural fiction’ – Lisa Tuttle, in The Times. The omnibus is available at a ridiculous £5.99 for the rest of June, before going up to £10. Follow myself (@t_a_fletcher) and @jofletcherbooks on Twitter for opportunities to win a copy, too.
And some other news – publication of IDLE HANDS is likely to be delayed, because between me delivering the draft to Jo Fletcher Books and receiving the editorial notes back from them, we…had a baby. JFB have been brilliantly understanding and taken IDLE HANDS out of this year’s publishing schedule, meaning that I can take my time to redraft and edit.
I haven’t mentioned our new arrival online yet because, well, I try to share less than I used to. And this post isn’t really about that. But I had been splashing the original publication date around a bit, so now that it’s changed I think I should provide an explanation.
All in all, I’m spending less time writing, less time editing, less time publicising, less time at the computer full stop. More time thinking, though. And more time – I’ll be blunt – more time living. I know now that if I aim to measure myself through my achievements as a writer – in terms of words written per day, books published yet, books sold, good reviews, money made, rights sold, whatever – then I will never be satisfied. If you get longlisted for an award, you want to have been shortlisted. If you get shortlisted, you want to have won. If you win one award, you want to win a more prestigious one. (Of course it is always an honour to be longlisted, shortlisted, to win, but that’s besides the particular point I’m making). There’s always more for the taking, if you’re willing to spend the time taking it. At the top of every ladder, there’s another ladder. It never ends, and I’ve felt it fractalize out into the future, and I’ve seen peers feel it. The ladder metaphor holds, for me, but the feeling is that of looking into a bottomless pit. So, in short, this is me consciously backing away from the edge. Or ladder. From the mixed metaphor. (There’s always an apposite Nick Cave lyric, this time from Oh My Lord: ‘The ladders of life that we scale merrily / Move mysteriously around / So that when you think you’re climbing up, man / In fact you’re climbing down’).
Which is not to say that I’m going to stop writing, obviously. I love writing. But I’m going to stop worrying about it. It’s an oft-repeated wisdom that to succeed at these things, you have to put them first; you have to write every day, you have to say yes to every job or opportunity, you have to etc etc etc, whatever. What it all boils down to is If you ever think you don’t have time to write, you’re not a real writer. My position in the past has been to disagree, but worry that I’m wrong. My position now is still to disagree, but not care whether I’m wrong or not. Because other people are more important than me, and my writing career. And I’d rather spend time with the people I love, and be wrong about what it takes to be a writer, than be a wildly successful writer who became wildly successful by virtue of not having time to play with their kids or relax with their partner.
So, my new approach – don’t take on too much, and write when I can. This won’t only be enough to deliver IDLE HANDS on time, it will enable me to make IDLE HANDS a better book. All work and no play doesn’t just make Jack a dull boy, it makes his books dull, too.