‘Wow, you’re an author? Like, that’s so cool (pause) are you like, um published?’
‘Yes,’ I mumble. I have had this question about a hundred times and I never know quite how to answer it.
I don’t blame people for asking because here in Ubud, every other person is a writer, or claims to be one. So when they find out I’m actually published (by a big name publisher), and haven’t just photocopied my manuscript and sold it in Bali Buddha next to the crystal deoderant and sacral chakra pendants, they can’t believe it (actually I still can’t either).
I have this weird relationship to the word author though. Partly because I feel like a total fraud saying it. Because I’m not like Margaret Atwood or Zadie Smith or Monica Ali. And also because the word author has so many connotations for others when they hear it.
Namely the connotation is: ‘SHE IS AS RICH AS JK. ROWLING. WHERE IS HER SUPERYACHT?’ Their eyes go a little wide. I see them scanning me for any sign of wealth…eyes dropping to my fetching yoga leggings, zooming up to hover at my Topshop sunglasses. They frown and then glance at my fraying old handbag. Yeah, keep looking I think to myself…if you find any sign of wealth please show it to me.
I think authordom is completely misunderstood. People have this vision of authors making six figure deals and living off the fat of the land in their thatched cottages in the Cotswolds (thinking of the guy in Tamara Drewe) or castles in Edinburgh (JK) or in their villa in Bali (ahum). Let me be clear on one thing to all you aspiring writers out there. DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB.
I was moaning with a friend via email about money. She’s a well-known actress, up and coming, constantly in work for TV and film and she’s broker than me. We were bitching about how hard it is to make a living as an artist (especially now with online piracy making it really hard to earn out an advance…just saying). But then I listed off my biggest expenses:
Massages, Sushi, flights, pilates, books…
Yeah. I mean. I read it back and started laughing. When you have enough money to afford those on a near daily basis you’re a long way from broke. And yes, I’m super lucky to have an amazingly hard working and successful husband able to take up the slack (until I’m as rich as JK he tells me, which is when he plans to retire – see even my husband is deluded).
Life is sweeter than sweet. I moan about being a poor artist but in actual fact I just had a manicure, lunch with my friends and ordered in frozen margaritas. Downstairs Kadek is making us a salad while I ‘work’. I might earn half of what I earned in London but my life is a trillion times more enjoyable.