It was my Book Group’s Christmas get together last night. Notwithstanding the Arctic temperatures, we battled our way to my local pub where a roaring fire warmed our cockles. High heels and sparkly tops were, in the main, cast out in favour of woolly cardigans and sensible shoes and there wasn’t a paper hat to be had but we had a lovely time.
As the evening wore on the conversation turned, as it inevitably would do in such company, to books. Specifically, my book. Someone enquired after its health and so I informed them that it was in tip top condition and probably, barring some careful proof reading, was finished.
You can guess what happened next. It was like when your car starts to slid on the ice. You feel it go, there’s nothing you can do about it and you just have to bow to the inevitable and wait until it comes to a stop of its own accord. The skid started gently enough – a few harmless questions about the plot, how and when I had written it, some discussion about real authors.
But then the momentum took hold of my figurative skid. Someone suggested reading it as a book group book.
This was not entirely unforeseen. Indeed, in my brighter moments, I had toyed with the idea myself. But now that someone other than me had suggested it and there seemed to be genuine enthusiasm for the idea, my car was spinning down a hill towards a selection of imaginary primary school children and a very deep river.
OK. Enough of the skid analogy but you get the idea. Not great at talking about myself at the best of time, and with the full attention of the group focussed on me, I floundered until I was ably rescued by a friend who has known me for a very long time and could see my difficulty.
The worst of it, though, is that I know this is a really good idea. My book group is a discerning, well read and open minded bunch of women who almost exactly match the audience that I was aiming at. It makes perfect sense for them to read and critique my book as we have done with so many others over the years.
But I’m not sure I’m brave enough. It would be like opening up my chest and putting my heart and soul on a platter for the world to poke at. And yet I have done this before. For the first nine months or so of my blog, I tapped away in private telling only a very small number of people how to access it. And now people are reading it all over the world.
I know I should do it. It was a genuine offer, kindly made and I should put my fears to one side and accept. And I might yet. But just at the moment it feels like the scariest thing that anyone has ever asked me to do.