Back when I knew, I mean I just knew I was going to be a successful author of Steampunk books, I had a publishing ritual.
Jane and I moved into a crappy bungalow apartment in Denmark after returning from Greenland. It was the worst apartment ever. It reeked of cigarette smoke. The neighbours were loud and often drunk, playing music at stupid hours and doing that whole stupid drunk thing of adjusting the volume up and down.
Jane and I were both struggling with reentry to Europe – each in our own way, as we tried to come to terms with a faster and more urgent way of life, and a whole new set of priorities.
The weird thing was, these new priorities really didn’t seem very important at all. A bad day at the boarding school where I worked might include an incident when a member of staff didn’t tidy up after themselves. I had to bite my tongue several times to stop myself asking if anyone had died. Because, on a bad day in Greenland, someone probably had.
But I had this ritual.
When I finished a book Jane and I would take a short drive to the beach on the west coast of Denmark. I would walk to the water’s edge and toss my manuscript onto the sand as the water receded. If I managed to retrieve it before the waves returned, then it was meant to be.
I liked this ritual, just like I liked the foam on my boots, the sun in my face, and even the sand between the pages that I found when editing.
It was a good ritual.
The only problem was, it didn’t work.
Not one of those books I tossed into the sea ever really sold. I mean, if the sea had told me that, I could have saved a lot of money on commissioning covers, etc. Of course, if I really thought about it, then I would realise that the fact that I could grab the manuscript before the sea took it probably meant the sea didn’t want it.
As Maratse would say.
Now, I still love those Steampunk stories. They are not nearly as polished as my later work, but the raw edge to them makes them fun to read.
At least for me.
Apparently, not the sea.
But then there was a second part to the ritual. A very important part: cake!
It was a sign!
And regardless of whether the sea wanted any of my books, it got Jane and I out of that crappy apartment.
Curiously, I haven’t once tossed a single Greenland story into the sea.
And again, with another Maratse Hmm, I could think about that, and celebrate with a slice of cake!