It’s not all bunches of roses and signings at Waterstones, you know. A factual look at a real publication day of a real-life author (me):
6.45am Alarm goes off. Snooze.
6.55am Snooze again.
7.05am Fairly sure by now that someone, somewhere in the flat must be preparing my Publication Day Celebratory Breakfast. Maybe they’re just distracted by bringing in all the bouquets? Hit snooze again.
7.08am Realise that J is on his way to work, and the kids are probably still asleep. The practicality of a four-year-old and a two-year-old conjuring up the breakfast I have in mind seems unlikely, if not dangerous. Finally get up.
7.10am Remember that my mother is also here (to look after the kids today) and am amazed that she hasn’t rustled up a feast. Make us all porridge, which I eat while having an argument about media coverage of benefit claimants with my mother. The children don’t contribute.
8am After filling myself full to the gills with porridge and apple compote (best winter breakfast in the world) realise that the celebratory breakfast is actually with my agent, in town, fairly soon. Frantically start throwing clothes on.
8.30am Quick listen to The Today Programme, just to check whether they’re discussing the groundbreaking and hilarious look at maternity, The Baby Diaries. John Humphrys shows no signs of having to stifle giggles: maybe Evan Davis has been assigned to the coverage. Give up, and decide to finally break out my Liberty print wedge Nike trainers I’ve been feeling guilty about buying since last summer.
9.30am After a sweaty, breakdown-ridden tube ride, meet my agent at the Soho Hotel. Finally. Order one of everything on the menu.
11.30am Remember that my agent has a job she needs to get back to. Release her from ‘breakfast’. Head to Foyles to buy myself a pub day present, and to do some work in their café.
11.45-3pm Write three blog posts and do some work from my paying life. Bump into the lovely Pushkin Press bigwigs. Learn how to pronounce Stefan Zweig’s name, finally, and feel very literary; also a bit tearful at the congratulatory pub day tweets from v nice twitter people, and emails from my publisher. Realise I’ve probably been here longer than most of the staff today, so head off to choose book for myself.
4pm Enjoy moment of clarity: even if I desperately want a new Jonathan Lethem or Edna O’Brien (and I do), if I come home with a new book when we’ve just shipped almost fifteen boxes of them to our various parents’, I might be dining alone tonight. Buy spinach instead.
5pm Home. After spending much of the day writing pieces that were pretty complimentary about my mother, I find that, rather than fixing the toilet, she has in fact re-broken it. She leaves us, with a confused look at my stomach and the words, ‘Are you sure you’re not due until April?’ When I flip the bird at the closing lift doors, I realise my daughter is behind me, and pretend to be scratching something off the lift button.
6.10-7.30pm Cooking with the infants. I’m an excellent cook (though I say so myself because it’s true), but somehow manage to overcook an entire batch of granola and produce a tray of brownies that are dryer than Dorothy Parker. I’m left with the best part of a kilo of burnt porridge oats and some mealy pecan cake. Mutter about Zadie Smith probably not having to deal with this on her pub days.
8pm Kids in bed, we start packing for our half term holiday, while I also cook for us. The menu: fillet steak, dauphinoise potatoes, spinach with nutmeg, mange tout and button mushrooms, all with a peppercorn sauce. Dessert: chocolate mousse. I have cleverly made three mousses, so I can eat the spare one when J goes to work tomorrow.
9pm We eat. J’s made a lovely table, and is delighted by the fact that there’s no limit on the potatoes. Lack of seconds is the price you pay in restaurants for not having to do your own washing up, I suppose. I’ve put Miles Davis on for backing music, but I can’t stop dancing to it. Distracting. We toast The Baby Diaries, check J’s copy has downloaded to his Kindle, then eat in silence for two minutes until our plates are empty.
10-midnight Celebrations are over. I’ve yet to receive my congratulatory telegram from Salman Rushdie, but there’s still so much packing to do and I can’t wait forever.
12.30am Bed. And so ends my second publication day. Good bits: second breakfasts and the kindness of twitter. Bad bits: all that burnt granola. But I’m sure Virginia Woolf went through exactly the same thing.