Finding the joy in life and stopping to sniff the hedges

Last Thursday or was it the Thursday before, I forget now (I’m so breezy!) I had my first book launch in seven years. Seven years is a long time to be without a book on the shelves so it was quite a big deal, as you can imagine. Luckily for me my lovely publisher decided to organise the whole thing, including invites, drinks and even a cake with the cover on it. All I had to do was turn up at Waterstones and read a bit from the book, easy peasy right? So why did I spend the whole day before in an utter mess? I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t engage my brain before opening my mouth and my stomach was a jumble of knots and strange noises. I have never been so nervous in my life, I wasn’t even this bad on my wedding day. I tried to talk myself out of my nerves, tried to think about all the positive things to do with the book launch but no matter how hard I tried I still couldn’t get past this feeling of dread. So I made a list to try and pin point what I was quite so nervous about.

  1. No one will turn up, not even my editor.
  2. No one will like the book.
  3. No one will buy the book.

dorothy parker on bad books

4. People will return the book to the shop and demand a refund.

5. I’ll get stuck in traffic.

6. One of the children will throw up on my new dress.

7. I might throw up on my new dress.

8. I’ll get a spot.

9. I’ll lose my voice.

10. I’ll get a migraine.

11. I won’t be able to find the right Waterstones.

And on and on it went, so I stopped making the list and went for a walk with the dogs. This normally sorts out most problems for me. As I walked the dogs across the field I wished I could be a bit more like them, be a bit more Springer Spaniel and Labrador about the world. They don’t care if they’ve got a bit of mud on them, in fact the muddier the better!

Betty, Badger and Murphy

Their main focus was on chasing pigeons and each other. They sniffed hedges, the ground, each other’s unmentionables and spent a lot of time running backwards and forwards after a ball for no apparent reason other than the joy of it.

Badger in Wales

That’s what was missing, my nerves were eating up the joy of it all. I stood in the field and watched a tractor going back and forth, plodding on methodically creating neat line after line and realised that’s what I should be doing. I should be sniffing up the joy of life like the dogs. I should be writing new line after line, like the tractor, for the next book. It wasn’t quite a Eureka moment but it did make me feel better. I put myself to bed early that night, a bit like an overtired toddler and hoped that a good night’s sleep would sort me out.

All nerves seemed to have disappeared as I let the dogs out for their morning wee and sniff the next day. And at last I did feel the joy of it, because I’d written a book, I was proud of it and people would come, if only for the cake, and all would be well.

I put another dress in the car, just in case and left the dogs at home, no matter how joyful they are. Funnily enough there was a dog at the launch, not mine but someone else’s and much better behaved. When I looked at that dog being fussed I remembered the word JOY before I opened my mouth to do my reading and I honestly didn’t feel nervous at all. And my editor did turn up, look here she is, see how relaxed and comfortable we are in front of the camera.


Ok, I still look a bit nervous but at least my dress remained clean, so all in all, it was a good night and now the book is out there in the real world so I can just put my feet up and relax*, can’t I? Can’t I?

*relax = scour the internet for book reviews whilst obsessively checking sales rankings.

If you want to hear me talk about The Boy who Drew the Future I’ll be at Waterstones Nottingham as part of UKYAExtravaganza on the 10th October 2015.

I’ll also be fairly chatty about all things historical at YAShot at Waterstones Uxbridge on the 28th October 2015.


The Boy who Drew the Future is out now, you can buy it in the shops if you like, or not, whatever, I don’t care, I’m completely Spaniel/Labrador about the whole thing.

Blaze's dog

6 thoughts on “Finding the joy in life and stopping to sniff the hedges

  1. Huzzah! and very best of luck with THE BOY WHO DREW THE FUTURE.
    Just for clarification – does ‘sniffing the joy of life’ (great phrase btw) have to include sniffing ‘each other’s unmentionables’?
    As one Springer owner to another – I now know the meaning of the phrase ‘the joys of Springer’ – even in the autumn.

  2. When I had a book launch for WOLFIE I lost my voice, my husband was stuck on a train, I couldn’t find a parking spot and like you I was absolutely convinced nobody would come. They did, and I even managed to growl my way through my reading (appropriate for a book about a wolf!) Congratulations on your wonderful looking new book which I shall be seeking out at my nearest bookshop.

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