So there I was, reflecting on the editor’s edits (and agreeing with 99% of them), and I felt it again. The creeping dread that maybe this book, fundamentally, doesn’t work. That all the research and clever constructs – that word clever is a clue in itself – have been a waste of time. Who the hell wants to learn about the early Middle Ages in a contemporary British spy novel?
I smile at the inner critic, imagining him or her (I have two, each one a shadow of my muses) in front of me, flip them the finger and breathe in that heady vapour of fear. It tastes of stale tobacco and misty rain, with a hint of metallic tang. It’s familiar and strangely comforting. Because if it bothers me that much then it must matter. And if it matters then I need to give it my attention.
Fears are informative. (A great title for a children’s book, wouldn’t you agree?!) True, some are irrational, but there’s always a reason lurking at the back of it. Some fear spiders – in which case don’t dwell on the image below this post, from our kitchen wall. For others it’s snakes or heights or yellow jumpers.
Me? I have a fear of heights, probably someone once lifted me out over a balcony (either 2nd or 4th floor, unless it gets higher as my memory fades) – and yet I love flying. Go figure.
As a writer I may not be able to defuse a bomb against the clock, or wrestle an elephant, or evade nighttime security staff, but I understand what it is to be scared. To feel the world closing in, mouth dry, hands chilled, and my eyes swallowing the horizon.