It was the night before Christmas (actually it was the morning of the 22nd but allow me the poetic license) and the Spirit of 2020 hung heavily over me. It breathed an icy maskless breath on the back of my neck redolent of failure, penury and past their sell-by date mince pies. Bah humbug! I hate mince pies.
I shivered despite my four layers and inability to bend my drawing arm at the elbow and reflected on the past year.
I have been working for most of the year on a pitch for a new book despite having a reluctance to working on pitches. It feels like gambling. You can pour months of work into a potential project only for it to be eventually rejected. In the same time I could have written and drawn a good portion of a new book. That book could also be rejected but at least I would have something to show for my toil. Such is the illogic my mind follows.
It is too bad that the publishing world does not bend itself to my will and descend into an unseemly bidding war the moment the ink is dry on the last panel of the last page of my latest opus. Reality Bites as hard as a mediocre comedy-drama starring Ethan Hawke. Bah humbug! I hate Ethan Hawke.
Wavering between enthusiasm and fatalism I was persuaded by my agent (she took me by the lapels and shook me violently until I agreed) to work up a pitch with the faint promise of fame and wealth. Work began in April and has continued throughout the year. And what a year.
So now here I am with the smell of Christmas in my nostrils. The child is home from university, the tree is up, a classic has been watched, mulled wine is boiling down to a thick syrup on the hob and we have grown our very own mutant strain of coronavirus.
Yes, you could say it’s been a year. And then some.
So it was with a feeling of apprehension that I called my bank. The Spirit of 2020 shadowed me the half meter across the room to the phone. With a sigh I listened to the robo-message informing me they were experiencing an unprecedented number of calls and there would be a half hour wait. I hate an unprecedented number of calls.
Luckily I am at the cutting edge of phone banking technology and mashed the digits in the correct order to hear the dismal tally of my balance. The digital monotone speaking the numbers sounded about as jolly as a product of the Sirious Cybernetics Corporation.
The AI might have been deep in a festive funk but I was delighted to hear the new total. The Spirit of 2020 evaporated in a cloud of respiratory droplets. It would be back but had the decency to make itself scarce for the moment. I ran to the window, threw it open and called out to the young lad outside. Whats to-day, my fine fellow? The youth had his earphones on and ignored me.
It didn’t matter. The publishing Scrooges had made good their promise and placed the advance in my account. The pitch had been acquired. The gamble had paid off. There would be a Christmas after all, Tiny Tim. We will have a nut roast from the Sainsbury’s Local around the corner. The biggest nut roast they have!
So I will stagger into the new year relieved to be wrapped in the chains of a fresh deadline.
Happy holidays to you all.
Despite this being the season for calm reflection, religious devotion and family, I believe in the old-fashioned values of crass commercialism. You can buy stuff from me:
The Book Tour is out in the world. So is Kerry and the Knight of the Forest.
I have a store full of goodies, a patreon and a long backlist of digital titles.