Writing a book is all sorts of things - amazing, bloody hard work and frightening for instance. One thing it isn't, surprisingly enough, is an ego trip. Yesterday a friend took some photographs because my American publisher wants one. I suspect they think I am hiding a congenital deformity because they keep telling me to send a snap and they do not seem to believe I do not have any. Once you are a mother, your husband loses all interest in taking photographs of you and just photographs the children while mumbling "He really does look like me doesn't he?"
Real up-to-date photographs were a bit of a shocker. Either I am suffering from acute body dysmorphia or I am looking really old. I have decided it is dysmorphia. Perhaps it was triggered by curling my hair - something I used to do years ago and look fabulous. Now it just looks as if I should know better. The problem with the photographs is they do not bear any relation to what I think I look like. My mother tells me I am lovely, my husband tells me I am lovely. Why then do these photographs tell me I am weird looking, slightly goofy and have one half of my face infinitely fatter than the other half? And when did my nose grow so long? Has it been growing for a while and I never noticed or did it have a spurt the night before the shoot? Even my two-year-old daughter is noticing. We were reading a story book and she said "He's got a big nose" pointing at the picture of a bear. "Yes darling he has," I agreed. "My nose is little," she told me, checking it with her finger. Her nose is exquisite. "Yes darling," agreed Mummy, "you have a very little, very cute nose." She looked at me: "You've got a big nose Mummy" she informed me. Thanks. At least it prepared me for the photographs.
Having a book published does not only undermine your faith in how you look though. It can also make you feel like a real under-achiever. I had to fill out an eight- page publicity questionnaire. Sections include: "Any special awards or honors, including academic awards and prizes for previously published works." (I think they mean this is where you mention the Nobel or the Pulitzer. I wondered about including runner-up in the North-East Young Journalist of the Year 1902. I still have the Parker Pen somewhere.) Then there is the section where you provide the "list of your previously published books" and "approximate sales figures in both hardcover and paperback."(When I was 13, I got a story about a cat published in a book by children - my mother still has a copy somewhere. Would that count?)Not to mention the section where you list the books which have been "serialized, adopted by book clubs or made into a film." I was also asked "for what college courses will your book have particular appeal", and to "list academic meetings or conventions where your book should be displayed", as well as whether I had any "upcoming lectures scheduled". Finally, I was reminded "corporate and institutional purchases can become a major factor in book sales. With that in mind, please list any organisations, academic institutions or companies you think would be interested in purchasing a large quantity of your book for a discount for giveaway or resale to their employees, members, students, or customers." (This form is for the same people who want the photograph.)
I WAS about to start sending a children's story I've written to a number of agents. Since I have no awards, prizes or anything other than a second class degree from a second (scratch that, 5th) class university to my name, am not sure I will bother now...
apparently your nose and your ears always keep on growing. Hence all those old people with bulbous noses and colossal cauliflower ears.
It all sounds too much bother being published, I'm going to tell Hamlyn thanks but no thanks. Didn't you get the pulitzer? Or was it the booker? ;-)
i am not suggesting for a second that you have a bulbous nose.
but you are suggesting the cauliflower ears then...
I suppose if you were disarmingly beautiful then nobody would by your book. We love you because you are just like the un-evenly-faced rest of us!
Wifey, despite what Pig says about your bulbous nose and colossal cauliflower ears, can't believe you really look like Jim from Eastenders - I'm sure it was just the lighting.
OMG, so being published is not the holy grail, or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, at all!
It's not the end, or the beginning? Not the beginning of the end - or even, as Churchill once so memorably put it, "the end of the beginning"?
Please tell us that there are SOME perks to it though!
You always tell it straight here, which is refreshing and funny. This nose business bothers me too!
Recently one of my kids told me I had a nice face. Ah, I said, but not a pretty face? He considered carefully before saying, it depends what you're doing...
So. If potty mummy has a 5th class university degree and shouldn't be bothered to publish, wherein is there hope for those in America with only high school diplomas to their names? I know I live in the "land of opportunity" but I think most of those go to those who ship in from other countries. I guess I'll have to try harder! Or, I could write to my high school teacher, Dave Guterson, who is published (remember Snow Falling on Cedars?). Yup, that's him!
Please, don't shoot me for being a name dropper.
We always serve as our own worst critic. Must be that catholic thing...
Anyone who has spent time with you knows how lovely you are. Ease up!
As if the writing isn't hard enough!
Yes, that bloody questionnaire brings it all back down to earth pretty quickly. You either have to be very imaginative (ie. there are hoards of support groups for people who have moved to the north) or lie through your teeth. Preferably both. I don't think they even read them.
As for the photo, go black and white.
BTW since the book covers are so different, which do you prefer? (Probably not a good question to answer actually.)
Blessed are the bignoses, for they shall inherit the earth.
No worries, a large hat can hide any obscenity in a photo!
Worry more about the launch. People meet you in real life and feel that they can say that you are fatter/thinner/taller/smaller/larger nosed than they thought!
The way you describe yourself isn't the way I picture you at all, so it's going to be funny to finally see you when I buy the book.
I hope Pig's wrong and ears & noses don't keep growing or I'll end up looking like Albert Tatlock.
judith i think you are possibly one of the funniest writers i have read in a very loooong time. THANK HEAVANS!!!! been laughing out loud all evening...sending site to friends.
you've Got It!Q!!
So now publishers expect their authors to do the job of the marketing department too? Isn't it enough to have written them something to sell in the first place?
I'm with ExpatMum - lie, just lie, blatantly, through your teeth, with gusto, on the wretched form... oh hang on, then you really would have a problem with the growing nose thing, wouldn't you..
Belated thank yous for adding me to your blogroll. Just delighted.
Did you really win a prize in 1902? I mean I knew you were old but Crikey!!
Maybe Saga would buy a job lot of the book or failing that the Local Tourist Board?
Women with larger noses are much more attractive to men - don't ask me why, but it appears that it is a known fact.
i really wasn't suggesting the cauliflower ears, but you see, this is why you are doing so well; it's about being perceptive and incisive.
very sorry about implied cauliflower ears remark
I saw you on TV some time ago and thought you looked fabulous...
I also thought Princess Di looked fabulous when she was young. But look at any photo of her by the time, say, she was getting fed up with her husband, and you'll see how large her nose had grown!
It comes to us all ...
doglover (just back to blog-reading after computer problems)
It is soooo true that once you have children your partner will cease photographing you! All the years we had together and once our daughter comes along there is suddenly a missing space where Mummy used to be in the albums. I've heard several of my friends complain of the same thing. What is it with men that they do that? My three year old is also keen to point out my 'big boobs' my 'big tummy' and yes, 'my big bum' They really do keep you grounded and ego free that's for sure!
You have been nominated for Milf Lovers monthly by my mate Electro Kev - as he has a TV...
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