A young woman about to publish her first novel recently asked me if I still got excited – as excited as she clearly was, and jolly well should be – whenever I receive a copy of my latest book. I answered honestly that, while I can clearly remember the physical thrill – like a lightning bolt – I felt in the moment when I first saw my name on a book I had written – non-fiction – in the window of Rizzoli’s in New York thirty-odd years ago, I don’t anticipate the same buzz as I write my tenth book.
I immediately regretted that my reply might take the shine off her pleasure, and tried to explain that it doesn’t mean that I don’t love writing or publishing any the less. The writing itself gets harder, more complex, more challenging, more deeply satisfying. And – I suddenly realised – what really gives me a thrill, thanks to Twitter, to Amazon reviews, to taking part in literary events, is the connection to an individual reader.
It’s also what I loved about journalism. When I wrote features for newspapers and magazines, once in a while an article would garner a response that showed it had hit a nerve, communicated, shared, perhaps even comforted.
Knowing that, once in a while, one of my novels does the same is very, very exciting.
So thank you for reading!