How does it feel to have your debut novel published? Bizarrely, after all the emotions I have had to capture in words – yearning, love, fear and joy– this is one of the harder things I’ve had to express. I wrote something about it for this blog yesterday. It was terribly erudite, referencing Peter Pan and the X Factor, anatomising the semiotic tension between ‘dreams’ and ‘ambitions’. I tore it up.
I was trying to avoid saying how I really feel, and now I’m going to, and I’m squirming. Novelists don’t have to tell people how we really feel; we can pass it off onto our characters and hope no-one guesses. But here I am, posting my very first blog entry, writing as me. Jubilee has just been published and how I feel is – desperately clichéd.
I have wanted this since I was a kid, and have worked hard for it over six years of juggling childcare, writing and deleting, drafting, redrafting, re-redrafting, riding the hope-despair seesaw. I made the decision early on not to be secretive about it, but to describe writing as one of my jobs. (The other two were also unpaid: when you are a would-be novelist, a mother and an Oxfam volunteer, you learn interesting lessons about the ways in which money is tied to status).
So I feel happy and baffled , in the way you feel when the person you’ve fancied for ages finally reveals that he fancies you back. I am trying not to feel grateful. I keep thanking my agent and editor. My mom cried for a full half hour when she saw my first copy of the novel, hot off the presses. I am surprised by how passionate I still am – after all those years, all those redrafts – about the book itself, how much I care about Satish, its protagonist, and about the childhood memories it evokes. I am absolutely evangelistic about Jubilee’s vision of this flawed and beautiful country: its shame and its pride, the diversity encoded in its DNA.
I also feel knackered, to be honest with you. I want to lie down under my Christmas tree with a glass of Bailey’s in the vicinity and enjoy the moment. Stick with me: the next post will be much more learned, I promise. We’ll do poststructuralism or something*. We’ll do Nietzsche**. But for now, I’ll wish you a wonderful 2012, and gently suggest that you treat yourself to a copy of Jubilee***. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to uncork the Baileys.
**This is unlikely
***Other novels are also available. Read mine instead.