I’ve finished first draft of the next Dr Dan book just in time for me to take a break and wear my other hat: the peripatetic granny bonnet. In the olden days this is the point at which I’d lob the typescript onto my editor’s desk, then run away and hide for a couple of weeks. Imposter Syndrome is something writers self-diagnose all the time. As in, ‘Oh no, now they’re going to realise I can’t really write at all.’
Officially I’ve abjured Imposter Syndrome, denouncing it as self-obsessed tosh, but of course I too get attacks of the screaming FUDs. And now I don’t even have a salaried, grownup editor to assuage my fears, uncertainties and doubts. But I do have some very generous reviews on Amazon, so on I plod. And I’ll come back to Dr Dan with fresh eyes later this month. That’s when I have to decide if I’ve set him up properly for Book 3. Gosh, a series practically.
Being out of the mainstream publishing loop there’s a recent development that had passed me by. Cultural Sensitivity Monitoring. This was brought to my attention by a writer friend who was advised to have his latest book checked before it went for type-setting. Cultural Sensitivity Reading is a whole new profession. You or your publishers pay someone, perhaps an academic working in the field of gender or post-colonial studies, perhaps a non-academic joe with an impressive CV of victimhood experience (gender-fluidity, Jewishness and eating disorders, for example.) to read your stuff and tell you how many people you are likely to offend. My friend, an educated, politically liberal individual, coughed up a couple of hundred quid and was subsequently warned he had scored heavily for ‘unconscious racist and colonialist bias.’
So now it’s decision time for him. Does he trash his book? Does he, chastened, take it apart and rewrite it very carefully? Or does he stand by it and say, ‘Heavens to Betsy, it’s a novel. I’ll publish and be damned.’
Meanwhile, the biggest decision this carefree self-publisher faces today is how many shoes to pack. An even number would be a good start.
Merry Christmas, all y’all.