Whenever I’m looking for something new to read, I try to find authors who have written lots of books. That way if I love their book I know I can look forward to reading more.
A few years ago, when I had a broken heart, I moved to a new area by the beach. I went to my new local library and I discovered a writer with a whole row of books to her name: Elizabeth Berg. Every morning I would take my latest Elizabeth Berg book to a café where I could see the sun shining on the water. A girl called Lorraine, who had the sunniest smile you’ve ever seen, would bring me a bowl of fruit salad with yoghurt and muesli.
By the time I’d finished reading the last Elizabeth Berg book on the shelf my broken heart had just about healed. I was so grateful to her for writing so many books.
When I got my first book published I had grand plans of being the sort of author I loved: the sort who writes a book every year. I have a horrible feeling I may have even said the following pompous words out loud: “I plan to be prolific.”
It turns out that I’m not the sort of author who can write a book every year. I’ve had to add it to the list of things I’ve had to regretfully accept about myself: eg. I am not the sort of person who grows fresh herbs in a little row of terracotta pots on my windowsill (the coriander dies first – every single time), I am not the sort of person who keeps the sticky tape, the scissors and the wrapping paper in the same convenient spot, I am not the sort of person who goes for a brisk walk before breakfast, etc etc
I have a recurring dream where I suddenly remember a spare, unpublished novel I’ve written that I’d completely forgotten about. It’s a wonderful dream. This non-existent novel is an exquisite love story. I always wake up just before the reviews come out.
That’s why I’m always pleased when a new edition of one of my books comes out because it feels like I’ve written an entirely new book.
I have just received my copies of the new edition of What Alice Forgot. It’s exactly the same as the first edition, just a smaller size (fits conveniently into your handbag!) but it gives me such a nice satisfied feeling.
This deluded feeling is even greater when a translated edition comes out. It’s like I’ve written a book in another language! Even though I don’t speak any other languages. Even though a translator did all the actual work.
I’m a fast, greedy reader myself. If I love a book I will stay up late into the night until it’s finished and then I’m always cross with myself for not making it last longer. Somebody spent months and months slaving over every sentence and then I just sat down and gobbled it all up.
My next novel is about hypnosis. I’ve been reading recently about self-hypnosis. Perhaps I can hypnotise myself into becoming a faster writer, a slower reader, an early-rising herb-growing sort of person who never stomps around the house, wailing, “Where is the sticky tape?”
I’ll let you know if it works.