Friday, September 6, 2013

Social Insecurity

6th September 2013

When I started out this blog many moons ago, it was to provide a weekly commentary on the publishing process for those who might be contemplating submitting a book or even writing one.  Lord knows, I didn't think I would ever get to entry number 83 with my publication date still six months off. But then that is part of the tale. I just had a look at my blog from this same date a year ago, and I was fretting then about the possibility of my publication date being set back. Talk of the devil - that's just exactly what happened. People look at me and say, "Why is your book taking so long to come out?" They might as well be saying, "Well, it's not exactly hot news, is it? The publishing world isn't exactly staying up nights to make sure it is out on the shelves next week, eh?"
I must have a serious inferiority complex, because I feel myself slipping into the place they are putting me, down there, where the insignificant things of this world end up. It goes back to growing up in Scotland with a Scottish accent, being made to feel that the children who went off to boarding school and had the posh accents were inherently more valuable. And then later at university when you were trying to get noticed by boys with plummy accents, you didn't stand a chance, and so the Scottish accent started to fade by necessity. You could never work your way into those circles, because you didn't have the pedigree, but you could become an American, which is a class-free shift, and that's what I did.  So Social Insecurity are my middle names, and I should have grown out of it after all these years, but I only have to get in the presence of the plummy ones, and I am all fingers and toes again.
I was just at a book launch of another local writer called Linda Lafferty. She got a 3-book deal with Amazon publishing, and is now launching her second of those books. The first has just passed the one hundred thousand mark in sales, and all power to her. But I sat at that book launch by myself, a seat away on both sides from anyone else - why is it no one ever wants to go to these events? I hope they come to mine! - and I was jealous. I admit it. I might harbour more jealousy in my black soul than most, but it was hard to watch this success story, with the promotional cards for my own book deep in my bag, with everything ahead of me part of the big unknown, and not feel just a little like grabbing the mic and doing something crass like a belly dance. "No, look at ME, everyone!"
Lafferty celebrated her good sales record by buying a horse. I think I might buy passage on another cruise. I'm so cheesy, so working class and lacking finer refinements, I would choose sitting next to thousands of fat people stuffing their faces on an oversized cruise-liner than trotting aristocratically through fields of grass.  Did I mention I come down from a long line of Scottish and Yorkshire weavers, not a streak of blue blood to be found? I got hold of my great-grandfather William McDougall's recruitment papers from the first world war. Under marital status, he had written "Widower," in a nice hand. Under occupation, "Weaver." He died out there in Belgium. Across his recruitment papers, some insensitive cur scrawled the word, "DEAD." I would pay a king's ransom to find out what happened. He was over forty. He couldn't have been on the front line. I come down from a long line of DEAD Scottish weavers. Perhaps even suicidal dead Scottish weavers.
My editor at Simon and Schuster and I are trying to come up with a list of authors to write glowing blurbs for the back of my book, the kind of thing you flip over to when you don't know the author but are contemplating buying a book:
 Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code writes, "I only wrote about the loss of the sacred feminine. Claire McDougall makes you live it."
Paul Harding writes, "Despite her Nietzschean leanings, Claire McDougall has written a book of immense cultural significance."
 Diana Gabaldon writes, "If only I had been born a Scot! With her book, 'Veil of Time,' Claire McDougall is set to take a few million readers right out of my court."
But only in my dreams.

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