Next week I will be visiting a couple of schools to help mark World Book Day. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, ever since I sat with a careers coach in my final couple of weeks at Microsoft and she asked me "What do you really want to do?". I told her that I really wanted to write stories for children at which point she asked me the killer question "What do you need to do then?" Oh the the sheepishness of my "get writing" reply. So write I did, in a nice A3 notebook where I scribbled pictures and words and enjoyed myself. After a while I had a nice little bank of stories which I would take in to my local school which entertained the children and gave the teachers ten minutes peace so they could grab a cup of tea while I soaked up the experience of thirty little faces grinning (or picking their noses, or asking if I drew my own pictures, or saying "that one was boring").
Having had 'Reasons to be Cheerful, Part One' published I then became very excited. "Ooh" I thought, "Now I understand this publishing thing, I can get one of the children's stories published and take a real book into school rather than my notebook." I set myself a target of getting the book ready for the visits and busied myself in getting it done so that I could then offer copies for sale after the talks.
So what happened? Where is the book? Well the proof has arrived and....it's just not quite right. The cover isn't as good as it should be (and as Tony who created the RtbC cover art will tell you "it's all about the cover"), the illustrations on the inside have got a few formatting inconsistencies and so I don't feel happy to show it to the world just yet.
The thought crossed my mind to postpone the school visits but as I was about to type an email to that effect my conscious gave me a big bash on the head that made me stop. When had these school visits become about a transaction?
Now, I do want people to read my work and of course ultimately I would love to see Waterstones stocked with stories I have written, but does it have to be now? Right now? The simple answer is no. Do I want to rashly put something out there that I don't feel proud of for the sake of a few £4.99 sales? No. Do I want to miss out on the opportunity to entertain these children and have their responses help me further improve my work? Hell no! It's been around two years since the tale in question was committed to paper and in that time it's grown and become stronger than I thought it could be thanks in no small part to the feedback of some very direct five and six year olds, an extra few months is not going to hurt. Who knows, it could be the making of it.
So come next week, off to school I will go, with my notebook and its hand-written stories. I will tell my tales, enjoy the responses of the children free of the need to be a sales person, and come back all the more richer for it.
Soundtrack: Hurry up and Wait - Stereophonics