A sad start to today, as I realised this week will be my last (for now) in the world of Penguin. I would very much like this to keep going, and going, and going…
This morning started, as most civilised mornings must, with a cup of tea and a little perusal of the day’s news. I then picked up the last of the collection of short stories I was getting through before the weekend. Short stories are strange thing; when you get a really outstanding collection, like the one I read on Monday, they are brilliant. Diverse, interesting, all written in different styles and voices. A collection of short stories by one author can be awfully samey, but when they stand out as stories on their own two feet then it makes those tales really worth reading (I had to write a report on this collection of short stories and there were many clicks on the ‘synonyms’ button in Word in order to not say ‘story’ or ‘stories’ forty times in one piece. ‘Piece’ was a good one too, actually). But unfortunately, this morning’s reading just showed, once again, how tough the short story can be. The author was American, which is interesting as these collections always sell much better in America. It’s a country well-known for its journals and magazines dedicated to short story writers. I don’t think we’ll be taking this collection on, although it was engaging in parts I just simply didn’t love it enough.
So, the exciting news today, ladies and gentlemen, was my Task. Oh, and what a Task. I had to send a few things out, you know, preview some books to some people…some people INCLUDING HILARY MANTEL! Young Ms Mantel is currently, although she doesn’t know it yet (unless she has Google alerts, in which case, ‘iya Hils!) awaiting, to her home address, a package addressed to her in MY handwriting! Not only that, but later in the day I had to send her something else! So she will receive TWO packages adorned with my fair hand!
This brings me onto the hallowed publishers address book. Head honcho, Tom, has really rather a prestigious role in this place. He’s, as Austen Powers would say, numero one. He has ALL of the addresses. And lucky old me had to access this goldmine in order to send out all these amazing parcels. I couldn’t believe it as I flicked through this Directory of Genius. I kid you not, it was just the most incredible thing for a young penwielder such as myself. A.S Byatt, Maggie O’Farrell, Will Self (my mate), Faulks, de Botton, Pullman, Bryson, Martin Amis (another one I had to contact…), Rushdie, Atwood – I was going wild! Best of all, in my opinion, was spotting my hero, Pat Barker. The urge to Google stalk her was incredible. Given half the chance I think I’d have spent all afternoon Street-Viewing my favourite writers. Oh, I lamented, if only Jane Austen were still alive so I could send her something! If only Woolf were with us! Where art thou, Willy Shakespeare?
I had to ask for something else to read at this point. I was aware I was fast becoming Creepy McCreepster, sitting at my desk with a marker pen and a postcode. All I needed was a baseball cap, a rucksack and a strange aroma of apple juice. I was like a trainspotter but for writers. Who don’t know me.
So my foray into the world of the celebrity writer titillated and excited me. I placed their parcels (with more care that the rest I’ve previously handled – perks of being a published author: I don’t play hoops with your package) into that hallowed bin of Penguin post (keeping a sharp eye out for any more of my friend’s returned manuscripts that would take me off the Christmas card list for life) and hoped a little of my spirit had gone with those parcels; perhaps glued to the pre-stuck adhesive, or in the way I probably spelled their name incorrectly. I was so, so, SO paranoid about that. Can you imagine? You are a Booker prize winning author, the world is lying at your feet, ingesting every word you dribble out whilst drinking your tea, and you get a parcel from an esteemed publishing company that says:
‘Dear Miss Hillerary Mantoil,’
I would not live that down.
To round off (as my dinner needs cooking and I have a scene to deliver by *checks watch* three hours ago) I shall proudly tell you that as I left Tom, who is taking some time off this week for half term (yah boo sucks, how am I meant to show how much they NEED me if the boss isn’t here!), leaned over and said ‘alright Charlotte, see you next week!’
HE ALREADY THINKS I WORK HERE!
P.S. RIP Richard Briers. Very sad to see the end of his days, what a lovely chap he seemed to be.