Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Es gibt hier keine Baeren."

Am very excited. Wife in the North came out in Germany last Wednesday (courtesy of a brilliant translator called Cornelia Holfelder-von der Tann) under the title Stadt, Land - Schluss and is about to hit number 15 in their bestseller charts. (Bearing in mind it sank like a stone in the US and we speak the same language - what's German for "hooray!"?) Even better my publishers have tweaked the book trailer so I now know how to say "There are no bears" in German.

What's happening in Germany is a real pick-me-up because the thing about getting a book published is you want another published after that, and then another, and chances are that might not happen. Me and my nose are writing away on Book No. 2 without a contract, which means without money, which means shedloads of guilt for not earning anything, and the acute suspicion that I'm playing at being a writer and really I should snap out of it and do something useful with my life. Of course, if I finish it and someone buys it, me and my nose are vindicated. But the last real writer I spoke to told me that the first novel she wrote never made it out of the drawer and went down as a "learning experience". I hate "learning experiences". Generally speaking they are unspeakably horrid and misery-making and give other people the chance to say things like "I don't think so" and "I'm afraid you're just not good enough."

The other night I went for supper at a friend's and before she'd allow us to eat we all had to troop out to the dusking lawn to play croquet. Croquet brings me out in a cold sweat. I'm a working class girl from Leeds. I wasn't brought up playing croquet. I don't even know how to hold the racket and I've never liked jumping through hoops. I'm short but even for me, it's difficult. I associate it with being a teenager and having lunch with the family of my then boyfriend. I could be wrong (these are only memories after all and what are memories made of?) but I have always laboured under the opinion his mother disliked me. In my memory then, the sun blazed, and I opted out of the game of croquet in the garden to sit in the shade. Later that afternoon, rowing in a boat along the river, the sun still shining, a girl (staying with the family on some sort of exchange) told me that my sweetheart's mother had asked her what she thought of me; and a victory of sorts - she said she liked me very much. I have always wondered how a grown woman could ask one child what she thought of another. The realisation that not everybody likes you - a learning experience.

57 comments:

billatbingley said...

Hi there wifey. I had no idea you came from Leeds, which is not a hundred miles from where I was born - Farsley, to be precise! Congratulations on the German release of your Wife in the North book. Hope your nose is not too overworked on book number two. I suppose one could say it is a case of "keep your nose to the grindstone"

Mimi said...

Oh please just keep on writing.
Even if you were to publish a book with just your blog posts, I'd buy it. You've a way with words, and it looks like the Germans appreciate that too.
As for "learning experience", I hate them too, and think the term is just a way of saying "shut up moaning".

Helen Romeo said...

Judith, I know. I know. But at least you had one success - so grab your petticoat tails with one hand and keep on skipping through the hoops! (One success is one more than I've had: with my first novel in the drawer, dusty, and a horrible fear of never achieving any sort of 'greatness'...incredibly scary when you're forty with 2 kids and no 'career' to speak of!) Remember, that one pebble already in the bucket's a better chance at getting the second one in! Keep at it, we're rooting for you and cheering you on!
www.frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com

scaryazeri said...

Congratulations, this is really cool.

The sad thing these days is there are too many really bad authors who make it HUGE. And having read some of those books, and yours, I know you write so much better.

So you must keep at it and you surely will be HUGE too. In fact, you are not that 'small' anyway, give yourself a well-deserved credit.
You could be just sitting on your sofa, watching Eastenders and saying looking after 3 kids is a big enough job as is. no need to prove anything. But you are a writer and a good one. well done.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ja! ist gut. oh how appalling to be writing pretend German in response to your post, but that's very exciting news isn't it? Hurrah for deutschlander (never did German, can you tell?)

Isn't writing one of those angst-ridden occupations? Unless you're J K Rowling and the world bows at your feet (have you seen the latest film? I do so wish Harry Potter world were real), then you are doomed to scribble away in insecurity methinks. I use 'you' to mean you, me, anyone who writes...not a personal attack on you. phew.

anyway, glad you're back, didn't you have a bit of a dry spell?!
Pigx

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Congrats, Wifey. If the Germans enjoy it half as much as I did then we can safely say you're well on the way to success! Lucky them to have the opportunity to buy it.

Best wishes, CJ xx

Barbara said...

Well, after I'd read your book (in English) I kept checking a certain online bookstore for the German version to give away to people and always it said: "to be published soon". So now is the time.
"Hooray" in German is "Hurra"... and "Germans" are "Deutsche", not "Deutschlanders ;-)
Congratulations! Herzliche Glueckwuensche!

Pam said...

Glad your book is taking off in Germany and I have no clue why it didn't do well in the USA, but then I wouldn't have know it exsisted if i hadn't read your blog - is it hard to advertise over here?

Of course your sweetheart's mother was cool with you - you were stealing her little boy.

Swearing Mother said...

Have just been over to Amazon to check out your book reviews from Germany, which took me a very long time since I don't speak a word of German but got the drift of each comment by the star ratings awarded.

Looks as if they like it Wifey.

Iota said...

I wonder why your book didn't take off in America? (Or are you just being modest? Your Amazon.com reviews average 4 stars.) Perhaps they don't get the whole city/country thing.

Suburbia said...

Good luck with your new book and the German version of your first, which I loved (in English of course, I can't read a word of German!)

ladythinker said...

Am rather surprised to find your book not been a success in USA. It maybe that the americans who ppreciate your writing have already been hooked by your blog - after all there is a recession on -they may be saving bucks to read longer superior version [with comments] on your blog.

Or: Maybe the writing was too subtle for them - perhaps they needed little smiley faces when you wrote something funny and little sad faces when you had written something sad. After all the 'modern way' is to glance or flick through and receive instant gratification; if not - move on.

Sarah said...

That must be a real boost. Compliments are lovely, and always welcome, (if positive) but a contract/commission/sale is the real affirmation, in a world of mortages and till receipts.
Alice in Wonderland introduced me to croquet, so I've always been a little nervous of the game...
xxS

rosiero said...

Ich wuensche dir Erfolg.

Susan said...

Ah well. One American thinks you're a helluva writer. (That would be me.)
We're a weird people, apparently.

sunshine said...

Hi, Judith -- truly happy to see you back here! Re: American sales --- If you can rustle up a way to make "Wife" into a video game, actually do in a few of the characters you wish you could do in, I'm sure you would have brisk sales! Looking on the plus side, you're still looking at 30-40 years of writing ahead!! Lots of time to have a best seller, and then everyone will go on to read your older work!

XXSunshine

Henry the Leaphound said...

It's great to see you back in the blogging world! Henry now has his very own blog and I'm addcited to checking out my favourites almost every day and this is thanks to you so keep it up!

Croquet, what a game. The secret is to not take it at all seriously and grab every opportunity to cheat. I've been caught many a time just 'nudging' an opponents ball with my foot and if all else fails I'll lend you Henry, he has a passion for croquet balls especially mid game and can run off with them very fast.

ladythinker said...

Oh dear, Susan - I do hope you don't think I was sayig Americans are a 'weird' funny lot! but I do think Brit humour not always very easily trans[altantic]ferable. Also have this image of Americans having limited attention span from channel hopping advert-loaded TV progs.
I regret to say UK is fast catching on to that style too.

pinkgladys said...

this is my first blog comment ;-) but i really have to get in touch...i live in germany, also in the north, in L├╝neburg, a city near Hamburg. i found the book "stadt-land-schluss" in a little bookshop at the seaside...didn´t know that is brandnew. i really liked it! life of german mothers between work and kids is not that different from those in england, i guess. so judith, please keep on writing and publishing! the only peaople who never fall are those who never try. right? take care, sarah

Katy said...

I have to confess I have given up trying to understand why people read what they do. In the last month I have read 3 books that were complete crap in my opinion, but have spent an awful long time on the US bestseller list.

As an American I have to confess I know a lot of people who don't "get" British humor. I think we have gotten so used to having everything shoved in our face, that many of us don't know how to react to subtlety.

Tiffany Norris said...

Please, please keep writing! This is one US-er who loved Wife in the North, and I wish you much continued success with that and any future books!

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Glad to see you back Judith. I have been checking. Like others I'm amazed you didn't do better in the US. Publishing is a funny old business and sometimes it has nothing to do with the book! A zillion other factors might have affected your sales there. Good luck with Germany and book no 2. xx

Angela said...

Dear wifey, you can`t believe how exciting it is for me to have found you here in blogland. You were the FIRST blogger I have ever heard of. And the reason being, your blog was mentioned in a German newspaper ( was it Die WELT or the Hamburger Abendblatt, I can`t remember.) It must have been two years ago, maybe more. Anyway, I am German but can speak English and read it with great amusement!
And a year ago I started blogging myself (in English) but never forgot you! I am so glad your book made it into the German bookstores. You are witty and can write well and have an eye for funny situations, so of course your book was well appreciated!
Herzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch! I`ll tell my friends about it.

Tracey said...

Hey. a big well done to you, not many get translated.

i never knew you were a fellow Yorkie! I'm a Hull girl in Newcastle!

I'm going to Germany in January, I'll look out for your book x

Linzi said...

Hey Wifey, just to say I love your laugh out loud writing style and cant congratulate you enough on your well deserved success!
Can I ask, did you have a big following from the start or did it snowball after the book came about?

Linzi x x

Rachel said...

I like the German book cover. Glad that you are posting again.

Single Mother on the Verge said...

Hi.
Congrats on the german publication. Oh gosh, I completely get how you feel. I spend days chewing my desk feeling exactly the same. My friends who are writers do too; it's like having a personality disorder: one minute wholly optimistic, the next filled with panic. Your book was fabulous, it did amazingly well, and isn't there a tv series to come?

Your next book will do wonderfully too. Thanks for your lovely review of my little paperback on amazon, that was great of you. If you find yourself in London and want to share pen chewing time, drop me a line.

Maria x

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Good luck with the book release.I'm sure it'll be a real success.

I didn't know working class girls from Leeds had 'supper'!

Helen Romeo said...

Wifey, can you give me any tips on actually managing to write a bloody novel whilst looking after house, kids and husband and blogging at the same time?! I'm finding the time management hard: and all I'm doing is trying to revamp something previously written (plus trying to keep marriage together - hmmm)! Do you write late at night or what?
Do you really not have a second book deal? I can't believe it, not when you are so obviously talented and marketable (I mean, Petite Anglaise had a double)!

Helen
www.frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com

deea-nah said...

Congrats! So all the trouble and strife was obviously worth it :-)

For those who don´t get the german title: It translates "City, Country, End" and refers to a german game similar to scattergories actually called "City, Country, River" (=Stadt, Land, Fluss). The word game of Life/Wife shows in the Schluss/Fluss change.
So now you can really make a boast of your German knowledge!

all the best from sunny Germany,

Dee

wife in the north said...

re Pam: I think one of the issues is the sheer number of US books published, making for an ultra-competitive marketplace. Unless you are big already, it's difficult to get any real marketing momentum behind you.

re Swearing Mother: mixed I'd say better than the US maybe not quite as good as the UK ones.

re Iota: definitely not being modest. It sank, sank, sank. Lots of US book blog reviews saying I was a wimp.

re pinkgladys: welcome and thanks for the comment. (It's now at number 10 apparently so spread the word.)

re Linzi: blog went viral pretty soon after start-up (luck of the draw) and the book deal came within a couple of weeks.

re Single Mother: I enjoyed your book a lot, and yes let's do that re meet-up.

re Helen Romeo: I have help with the kids otherwise whole thing would be unsustainable. I did work during the day (constant interruptions even with help) but I also wrote the first book in the evenings when I could get some clear thinking time. Husband either away or working himself so that wasn't a problem. This time though, I haven't managed the evening working cos I am so knackered all the time. It's not easy - write when you can is what it boils down to, although I suspect we take years over stuff that we could finish in three to four weeks if we locked ourselves in a cupboard and ignored the screaming.
re deeanah: Ahhhhhhh! I knew the first bit but hadn't grasped the river bit.

alfmcmalf said...

The realisation that not everyone likes you is liberating. It means you can stop wasting energy and effort on getting everyone to like you. It means you can start focusing on the priorities that suit you and yours.

Are you really writing book two because you simply want to have another book out? Or are you writing it because you genuinely have something of worth to say?

If it is the former then you will find negative feedback excrutiating because your motives are to simply try and please someone somewhere. If it is the latter then negative feedback will not matter a jot - you will simply feel "ok how do I rework this important message to get it across to the people who really must hear it". You will be driven to see it through.

Mimi said...

Hiya, I've left a little something for you over at my place- call in and collect it when you get time.

manicmum said...

WITN - you are are guiding light. All bloggers secretly hope for a book deal (well, some do) and I for one thought you had 'made it'. In fact, I still think that. Your waverings are part of the terror of being a creative person. You always worry about the judgements of others. You're probably being modest, too. I hope you keep writing. The great thing about a blog is it's like reading a favourite book that never ends.

Motheratlarge said...

You must know what a wonderful writer you are by now! Many congratulations on your new success with the book - well-deserved.

Thank you for sharing about the boyfriend's mother. I get the same treatment from my husband's mother - who shows every sign of living to a hundred but no sign whatsoever of relenting in her dislike of me.

Barbarella said...

The german word for "hooray" is "Hurra".

;o)

Best regards,
Barb

Helen Romeo said...

Wifey, just had a "ohh god what a life being a writer" moment too: you might appreciate my latest post (www.frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com)...if just one person reading my outpourings can fully empathise, all that time regurgitating my emotions at the computer keyboard might be worth it...or, then again?...
www.frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com

Dagmar said...

Hi,i just finished reading your book in german!
I had 2 days loving to spend my time with your wunderful memories and having the feeling of sharing your life having a glass of white-wine ;-)
Thanks for this book and I`m waiting for more!
Greetings from Offenbach/Main (next to Frankfurt),
Dagmar

BELLA said...

Hi wifey - just wanted to say I much I'm enjoying your blog (having only just discovered it!)
Looking forward to getting back to Blighty next month and reading ypur book. Congrats on all your success!!
Bella
www.bellasglasshalffull.blogspot.com

♥ Braja said...

Well done with Germany, and not surprising for the US....who ever concluded that they speak the same language? The words may be familiar, but their minds warp those words into far different meanings, so that what has us in stitches has them scratching their heads. Sorry, but as a nation, they're not very bright....

I'm sure your next book will be picked up; you;re having nerves as you, but from the outside it's a different view....everyone who bought the first will want the second...natural....

ItsFairComment said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I bought this book at the Airport because i've forgot my one. I thought maybe i can give to my wife when i'm home again. I read it in two days and learned a lot about my wifes situation and found out it's better to be a man.

Autumn Mist said...

I have just read Wife In The North and loved it. I found it in a charity shop. Imagine if I had missed it. We moved into deepest Derbyshire last November, when the wind was howling round the house and the rats were running round in the eaves above our bed. But then the sun came out and things improved considerably. But at least I have a horse and know what a girth is! But why did you leave the comments about your first son until the very end? Before that I was all set to pass the book on to my pregnant daughter, but if I do that now she will read it and cry, so I will have to keep it all to myself, for now, anyway.

mutleythedog said...

Only just read your post - I lived for seven years in Germany in the 90's. They buy a lot of books oh yes. I could have done offentlichkeitsarbeit if you had asked - I am available kostenlos.

Anonymous said...

Hi ther wifey - I feel like a soulmate. Just finished your great book in German and I loved it. It felt like not being alone or going to be crazy. The challenge of three kids won't shrink if they grow up. Mine are 19, 16 and 11.....

Marion

Ellee Seymour said...

Congratulations on your book's publication in Germany. And yes, that is baffling about America. After watching the end of the Real American housewives in New Jersey last night and their materialistic, false lifestyle, I can perhaps understand why.

Anonymous said...

Ellee, I think you are onto something. If someone said there was a book about someone leaving the big city to live in the remote wilderness the unfortunate truth is that in the States the immediate pic which would come to the mind's eye is of Sarah Palin going back to cold Alaska...

So that may have dented the view of things - albeit temporarily. Mind you, if she runs for the top job in 2012...

USH said...

Hi Judith,

I am just reading your book in German and I really love it from the bottom of my heart - the translation is con-genious. Greetings from Cologne in Germany - defintely no bears around...

USH

Deborah said...

Really glad to see you back. I'm not a writer. I'm not german. But I am from Yorkshire and I really appreciate your humour.

Swissy said...

Just finished the German version of your book and loved it - had to cry and to laugh out loud - my boyfriend now thinks I'm mad.

Keep on writing - the Swiss love it ;O)

Anonymous said...

Hiya,
well, I´ve just finished reading your book in German (as I am a German) and I loved it, especially as I am married to an Irish guy who sometimes threatens me with the idea moving to the Irish midlands. Your book is very amusing - the only thing that hit me unexpectedly was page 323 where you write about your first child. Reading this and being only 2 weeks away from giving birth to my first child it shocked me and left me crying whereas the rest of the book made me laugh a lot, and this is what makes a really good author: awaking your readers´ feelings...Please keep writing!!!

Roswitha said...

Hi,
I'm a woman and I live in Hamburg (Germany). The only thing I have to say: The book is great! I like the ironic humor it has.
Now I'm looking forward to the 2nd book :o)

Pia said...

I am German, I bought it and so far ( I am on page 52) I love it. Maybe because there are so many similarities between you and me. You see: I am German (well yes you know that by now) married to a Scot and living in Normandy France.
And the title under the title: wife, married, in the north, having three kids and a husband who is (almost) never there, could have been a description of me. These were the words that made me stop dead and pick it up, although I was already on the way out.
So I will definiteley keep on reading, in the hope that me too will have the courage to publish the adventures of "our" norhth (of France that is). I love blogging and writing and your book boosts my belief that even 'housewifes" are funny, charming and heartwarming to read. Keep on! We Germans love everything that is english! Even (espacially) the cold windy Northumberland. So I am pretty sure your book will be a deadringer there
Lots of love and courage
Pia from France

Countrygirluk said...

First of all, greetings from Germany, Lower Bavaria to be exact!!
My mum got your book yesterday for her birthday and I had a quick flick through it. I LOVE YOUR BOOK! Its funny, really well written and so honest! My mum has promised to get me your book for christmas. :-)
After moving from London to Lower Bavaria for my british boyfriend(!!), I can sympathise!
Please keep writing!

Countrygirluk

Ulrike said...

Whenever I got rid of the bears around us in the evenings, locked the door and sat down with a gun in my hand - not sure who would break in the door (bears or the eremites around us) I read "Stadt-Land-Schluss".

Your special way of surviving day by day in a new surrounding with 3 kids was absolutely wonderful. I loughed and I cried with you. But one question always remained: why didn't you check the fuel BEFORE you started instead of relying on your unreliable (but lovely) husband??? If you were my neighbour I would love to buy you a jerrycan...

Keep on writing - it gives comfort to all the mothers who had an absolutely terrifying live - before - and an absolutely weird (but also terrifying and other-directed live) - after. The thing is, that the braincells for the long-term memory still work and you remember...

From Uli in the middle of nowhere in Germany

Pia said...

I live in France and bought your book on a recent trip to my native Germany. What a lovely book. I have been blogging about my experiences in a "foreign" country myself now for quite a while and I know exactly how it feels to be a single married mum with three kids.
Carry on and good luck for book numer 2.
gutelauneinfrankreich.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Dear wife in the north -
Ich liebe Dein Buch! Ich habe es sofort komplett durchgelesen! Ich habe selbst zwei kleine Kinder, ich verstehe, wovon du sprichst. Bitte mehr!
Translation: I love your book! I read through it immediatetely and without stopping! I myself do have two small children, I know what you`re talking about.
More, please!