UPDATE 3.35pm: OH MY GOD, it's already up on Amazon.co.uk! You can pre-order RITES OF SPRING here right now!
The bound proofs of RITES OF SPRING arrived yesterday. Bound proofs, in case you've never met any, look like normal paperback books but are actually a kind of mock-up, less polished and requiring correction, but useful for advance promotion, book fairs, sales of foreign rights etc. It's the nearest thing I've seen yet, though, to My Novel In Print. Publication date for the hardback is scheduled for 13 March (they promise me it's not a Friday) and paperback should, I hope, be sometime in May. My agent will be taking her bundle of these to the Frankfurt Book Fair in a couple of weeks' time.
For the moment, I'm staring at the spine of this almost-book that bears my name, the title and the immortal words HODDER & STOUGHTON, trying to get my head around the fact that I've 'done it' . I have to try, however, not to look inside at the text because every time I do, I find something I want to change. And now I can't.
"Artistic fulfillment", for want of a better expression, is very different in writing from that of music. A musician works for weeks, months, sometimes years towards a performance: then, on the day, you're on the spot, producing the goods and feeling the energy coming back to you from people listening. In writing, however long you work on something, when you finally release it to its audience, all you can do is sneak an occasional glance at them while they're reading and say daft things like, "Where are you up to?", "Do you still like it?" or "You know that bit where....well, do you think it's believable?" The immediacy of emotion that you feel in performance is missing; on the other hand, if you've written well enough, the impression you convey has a much better chance of being what you set out to convey in the first place. And unlike a concert, the book on the shelf will be there forever. It's a tad scarey to reflect that RITES OF SPRING will be gathering dust in a library somewhere long after I'm pushing up the daisies........