It’s past four in the morning and I can’t sleep. Haven’t slept all night. I tried reading for a while, but that didn’t work – I couldn’t focus for more than a few seconds at a time. All that I have been able to do is lie in bed for five hours with my eyes wide open, staring into the darkness while Genie sleeps beside me, only waking up every hour or so to mumble “You OK, sweetheart?”
Am I OK?? I’m fantastic! I just won the Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary. The prize: £2,500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press!!! After years of writing with no prospect of success, I have a publishing contract for my first novel. I can call myself a writer without having to qualify or justify it.
I think that’s why I can’t sleep. It’s mostly pure, uncut, grade A adrenalin of course, but I think my brain is also buzzing so much because it’s trying to process the enormous change that has occurred in a single evening. In the past, when I heard people say “It hasn’t really sunk in yet” I never really understood. Sink in? Smelled like bullshit to me, just the sort of thing people say because they’ve heard other people say it in similar situations and they think it’ll make them seem gracious or something, when all they really want to do is dance around the room shouting “I’m the winner, I’m the winner!”
But now I think I understand what the sinking in thing is all about. For years I have been a struggling unpublished author. I have created stories to explain my situation to myself and others. I have grown somewhat comfortable in this role and reveled a little in the self-sacrificial nature of it. I have derived a certain satisfaction from sniping at published authors, jealously wondering how they got published when I couldn’t. Now suddenly, with the presentation of an envelope, a book and one of those large plastic cheques, I have been catapulted over to the other side of the fence. Suddenly I am one of those smug people with book deals who like to talk about their next Waterstones signing.
I have not yet made the adjustment, though. In my head I still feel part of the unpublished crowd. Someone at the event was offering around flyers for a fledgling-writers website and said to me “Oh, you won’t want this, though, you’re a published author now.” I didn’t really know what he meant for a while. So I suppose all these hours of staring into the darkness have been about adjusting slowly to the fact that I have a book deal. I still don’t think I’m there yet, but perhaps at least my brain is starting to catch up with events. I feel somewhere in midair now. In no way am I anything other than delighted, over the moon, ecstatic, psyched, etc. etc., but I suppose that being in midair and not knowing exactly where you’re going to land is also a little anxiety-inducing. I am entering the unknown. I’m having to create new stories to explain myself to myself.
Well, a little incoherent but I wanted to record how I feel. Now I have to go back to bed and stare at the ceiling for another few hours. Will try to write something more considered when I’ve had some sleep, so probably some time next week.