It has been fascinating logging the reactions of people to my Sceptre book deal, announced in the Bookseller last week. The vast majority of friends, acquaintances and ex-students have been almost as joyful and excited about it as I have, and many see it as a victory for poets and poetry, or reassuring proof that persistence and hard work can pay off in a big way; that creativity does not have to mean penury. To everyone who has offered their heartfelt congratulations; thank you. To everyone who finds the whole thing bothersome in some way, I apologise for triggering you – but please, unless you’re a personal friend of mine, don’t feel you need to share your concerns with me. They’re your concerns; take them for a walk round the park, chew them over with like-minded friends, blog them or tweet them if you must (but don’t send me the link). This is the time I have dreamt of since I was nine years old, and I mean to enjoy it thoroughly.
I spent Saturday night in the company of novelists, for the first time being officially one of
their number, and I must say it was very refreshing. As you might expect, almost all of my good friends are poets, but if the UK poetry scene is a knife fight in a phone box, the Sceptre deal feels like being given a mobile phone and the opportunity to walk away from it all. Or alternatively, leaping from a crowded goldfish bowl (where a few big fish gulp most of the oxygen) into a wide, warm ocean. This “debut novel” is actually the fourth I have written, but until your novel’s accepted for publication, you’re not a novelist. Finally I can step into a world with more space, less unseemly scrabbling, less bitching and griping, and better manners.
Not that I’ve paid much heed to the claustrophobic kingdom of Poetrainia recently. I have learnt that we get what we focus our attention upon, and that it is therefore essential not to focus on the negative aspects of one’s experience but instead to find positive aspects in everything. (Hence my earlier posts about the benefits of appendicitis and being hacked!) This has become my persistent practice, and since January (owing to a transformation in one of my personal relationships) maintaining a positive outlook has become significantly easier – which explains how well everything has been going for me these last three months. It’s astounding how quickly, in this vibrational universe, positive outlook attracts positive outcome.
Thus, in the same weekend that I read Carole Welch’s somewhat breath-taking praise of my last four years’ work, I received an e-mail from Chris McCabe of the Southbank’s Poetry Library, telling me that Lafayette Super Eight – a poem first published 11 years ago – is their poem of the week. I don’t think there’s necessarily any relationship between the two events except that I am feeling outstandingly positive, and outstandingly positive things are happening to me. I wish I’d understood all this a decade ago, but never mind. The journey to Clarity was long and bumpy, but it’s good to arrive.