I have just sent off the last couple of chapters of the next book (which you’re the first to know will be called Our Man In Hibernia: Ireland, The Irish And Me and is due out in September).
Ah, the sense of accomplishment! The pride! The feeling of elated release and excited anticipation!
Nope, as usual there’s been none of that.
There’s a real sense of anticlimax when you finish a book. It’s partly because there’s no ceremony in this new-fangled modern age. In the olden days I’d take my floppy disk to a print shop and print out the entire manuscript (my old printer would never have coped) put the whole thing into a massive jiffy bag, march into the post office, buy a sheaf of stamps, stick them all on and hand it over the counter like the Archbishop of Canterbury approaching a new monarch with the crown on a cushion. Then I’d go and get roaring drunk. And still have change from a farthing.
These days I sit here in front of the PC same as usual. I read through the final chapter for the nth time until I can practically recite it. I spot a typo I’ve missed. I cut out a line that was even more flabby than the rest of the chapter. Does the last line have a tantalising open-ended feel? Or does it read as if I’d suddenly dropped dead at the keyboard with half a chapter still to write? I still have that school essay internal programming where I think the last paragraph should always begin, “In conclusion, we have seen…”.
I’ll leave it as it is.
I click ‘save’ and close the document. I open a new e-mail and fill in the addresses of my publisher and my agent. I write a cursory two line message that basically says “well folks, ‘ere ’tis”, attach the final chapters and hit ‘send’. A blue (1) appears next to the word ‘outbox’ and then disappears.
That’s it. Book finished.
A year of work, and research, a bit of travel and three months of frantic, full-time typing up to twenty hours a day including over Christmas. Gone! Finished! Done!
I put my hands in my lap. I look out of the window. It’s raining. I stand up and walk into the sitting room and look out of that window. It’s raining there too. I put the kettle on. I change my mind and switch it off again. I think about going into town – after all, thanks to this book I’ve only left the flat four times this year, and two of those were to go to the corner shop – but it’s raining.
So I sit down at the computer again. I’ve a couple of e-mails to answer. I put some stuff up on Twitter. I’ve got two proposals to write for the next book. Better make a start, eh?
Document – New – tappity tap tap tap….