Well, the book has been launched, and I’m at a difficult crossroads. Do I frantically try to market it, push it out into the world like a ten-pound baby, or do I retract back into my shell and let the rest of my books lie fallow?
Can you all relate? It’s hard putting yourself out there, visible, when all of you screams, “No don’t! They’ll see your flaws.” Somehow it seems better to slink along and just not do.
And then there is the cringing that occurs when you’ve been seen and found wanting…Are you, in fact, merely killing trees to no purpose?
Its at times of doubt like this that I love a good poem, like this gem by the inimitable Clive James. If all else fails, I can hope for some minor glory, like his enemy in this poem…
The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered
The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I am pleased. In vast quantities it has been remaindered Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized And sits in piles in a police warehouse, My enemy's much-prized effort sits in piles In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs. Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles One passes down reflecting on life's vanities, Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book -- For behold, here is that book Among these ranks and banks of duds, These ponderous and seeminly irreducible cairns Of complete stiffs. The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I rejoice. It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion Beneath the yoke. What avail him now his awards and prizes, The praise expended upon his meticulous technique, His individual new voice? Knocked into the middle of next week His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys The sinker, clinkers, dogs and dregs, The Edsels of the world of moveable type, The bummers that no amount of hype could shift, The unbudgeable turkeys. Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper Bathes in the blare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine, His unmistakably individual new voice Shares the same scrapyart with a forlorn skyscraper Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook, His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed by others, His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretense, Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots-- One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment, And (oh, this above all) his sensibility, His sensibility and its hair-like filaments, His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one With Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs, A volume graced by the descriptive rubric "My boobs will give everyone hours of fun". Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also, Though not to the monumental extent In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out To the book of my enemy, Since in the case of my own book it will be due To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error-- Nothing to do with merit. But just supposing that such an event should hold Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset By the memory of this sweet moment. Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets! The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I am glad.
Personally, I’d kind of like to be found shelved next to Barbara Windsor’s Book of Boobs, which actually does exist, remaindered or not…After all, her boobs promise everyone hours of fun.
What more can any author ask?