Letting Go

In the last blog, back in January (stop carping, I’ve been busy) I wrote a piece about my aims for 2021. Third on a list of eleven was ‘finally publish that book.’ Well, on Friday 16th July, providing I can manage to find all the right links and press all the right buttons, I am hoping that will finally happen.

It’s been many years in the making, as a few of my friends have made only too clear to me. But there are reasons for that. It’s quite the undertaking, as anyone out there reading this who has done it will know. We’re talking north of 162,000 words here (and yes, I know much of that is due to my own rambling, verbose writing style: never use four words where ten will do is my maxim). But it’s not something you can knock out in ten minutes like, well, much like this piece, for example.

I stalled at one point. Badly. It’s all explained in the story, but having been rattling along in a particular style – light, self-deprecating, cynical, mickey-taking – I reached a point where I had to write about a close friend’s son’s death, which isn’t something I found easy at all. It took me a good while to get back to it and pick up the tempo again.

Because there was no sign of any queue of publishers snaking around the block, each keen to offer me all manner of inducements, the book is self-published. That means I have had to find the most suitable outlet, cost it all, design it, source an ISBN number (which all books must have), typeset it, price it, proof it, and all of the other shenanigans that you associate with publishing. I even had to spend a few days compiling an index, for heaven’s sake, and having gone back and made subsequent amendments to the text, that will probably now be all over the place too. But when I was told it would cost me a four figure sum, the Yorkshire in me kicked in and I just thought, ‘bugger that,’ and did it myself.

28 Authors and Writers Cartoons ideas | cartoon, new yorker cartoons, print  magazine

The book is a tale of my life on the edge of sport, the primary focus being my 23 years at Glamorgan County Cricket Club. I loved my time there, and I love the club. OK, so there was a rather public – and, for me, sudden and somewhat unexpected – exit from the place, but that wasn’t carried out by the Glamorgan I had come to love, and it didn’t bear the imprint of the Glamorgan that exists now. I consider it to have been some kind of production line quality control aberration, albeit one that I became nastily tangled up in, which chewed me and several others up and spat us back out. Much like experiencing a bout of violent turbulence on a long-haul flight, it passes, and the flight continues. I’ve never had any truck with Glamorgan as an organization. Far from it. The club has given me everything. It just happens to have included an out-of-character bonus kicking as I left.

Even though it’s been a long time coming, it’s been cathartic. I found myself chuckling along to the odd story as I typed it up. Revisiting some of the characters I’ve come across, and there were plenty, was also fun. It all starts with that departure from Glamorgan, which wasn’t easy to put together; nor was the chapter about young Tom Maynard. The rest, though, was just a question of organizing into the shape I wanted, researching, and then finding the time to write everything. That part was really enjoyable.

It’s a very niche audience, I know that. I knew it before I started. But before anyone goes off and starts criticizing the style, or the content, remember this: it’s not been written for the sales. The very thought is laughable. No, it’s been written solely for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to be able to set out some kind of thread of my life to date so that my two daughters would have some reference points. (Neither is too interested in cricket, so good luck to them wading through most of it…) Secondly, and by some distance the more important: I just want to be able to say that I’ve written a book. No more, no less. To point to a copy on a shelf and to say, ‘I wrote that.’ Even if it’s just to myself.

If people want to buy it, fantastic. If they like it, better still. But I’ll be happily ignoring any criticisms about content, about style, about the prose, about the font, the type size, the indexing, the factual inaccuracies, the grammatical inconsistencies, and (despite my very best efforts) the inevitable typos. I’ve done the best I possibly can with it. If there are mistakes, there are mistakes. The way it’s written is authentic. It is 100% me. If it’s a question of people disliking the way it’s written, they will be criticizing me. And I’m cool with that.

I hope people enjoy it. I’m nervous about putting it ‘out there’ but as I’ve learned in recent weeks and months, if I don’t do it now I will be forever tinkering, altering, ‘chiselling’ and playing around with it such that it’ll never see the light of day. I need to let it go.

If you like the book, do let me know. If you don’t, though, I’d be ever so grateful if you could keep your thoughts to yourself.

Tom Gauld on how to give an author constructive criticism – cartoon | Books  | The Guardian