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This week my 10th novel 'Teesside Shadows' was published in paperback. It's made for a very stressful week because when your books go out into the world, you no longer have any control over them.
In a very real way, they cease to be your own property and take their place in the imagination of your readers. However it lives in your own brain, you have to accept that others will see it differently. You hope that all the details and nuances you've written into it will be picked up, but you'll never really know if they have been.
I try not to have much ego about my books. I am proud of them, of course, but 15 years writing about football has given me quite a thick skin and I totally accept that not everyone will love everything that I write. Even so, it is always a worry that people won't like the new one. you write to please yourself first and foremost, and to say what you want to say, but I think it is almost as much done to please your readers.
The relationship between the writer and the reader is a very intimate one and it's not one I take for granted in any way. You're alone in the head of your reader: just you and they are present. I always remind myself of that in order to try and make sure it's as good as I can make it because I don't want to let anyone down in that one-on-one relationship, especially as my central character, Nick Guymer, is, in many ways, a cipher for myself. His interior monologue is pretty much my own and though he's much more likely to hit you in the face than I am, rejection of him by a reader would be a very personal rejection for me.
So it's out there now and the early reports have been positive. Phew! All creative people selling their work suffer the judgement of their customers and it does become a way of life - but it never gets any easier.
So now it's back to being judged on the quality of our t-shirt designs!