It’s official. I am now the most famous person you have never heard of. I have obtained my 10 minutes of fame – not even 15 as promised by Andy Warhol. How did this come about, you ask.
Let me explain – no that is too long, let me sum up.
Every writer has those moments in his or her career that mark a passage through the lower echelons of the pantheon. The first story written is the first and sometimes the hardest. I don’t just mean 5000 words strung together in a more or less linear fashion but an actual honest-to-goodness STORY with a beginning, a middle, and an end that makes someone other than your mother smile or cry.
Step two might be winning your first writing competition – maybe for a cash prize, maybe just for the honour. Or it might be your first sale, where a complete stranger or distant acquaintance offers to pay you cash money for something you wrote. Then you see it in print.
Later you may get a play professionally produced or have a novel published. You cannot imagine the thrill of excitement and fear when you hear an actor say your words or see them in print between actual covers. There is no doubt satisfaction to having your e-book listed on Amazon but it cannot come close to the electric shock of having your professionally printed book placed in your hands.
As a publisher, there is nothing more that I like than to physically hand an author the first copy of their book. Even the most experienced of them will start to glow with pleasure. It never gets tired.
Later you might win an award for your writing – not for simply the writing but for its public presentation. It is one thing to win a contest but quite something else to win an AWARD. A recognition from the public or a jury of the excellence of your work.
So I’ve done all that – had each of those experiences, most of them four or six or even 20 times. I have obtained a measure of success and recognition.
But yesterday, in a bookstore in Paris near to where my hero, Hemingway, lived and wrote and drank and loved, I found a copy of my first novel, translated into French last year. You cannot imagine the feeling of picking it up, seeing my book with my name on it, holding it (taking a picture of it) and presenting it to the bookstore owner with a smile: C’est moi! Je suis l’encrivain.
She smiled in return and I put it back on the shelf. Thus passes 10 minutes of fame.
I should have signed it.
But that’s ten minutes.