Fancy that; I just signed a book contract for my latest manuscript.
Now, I’ve been hanging on to my last Cuban cigar for just this occasion, but when the opportunity to go out on the balcony with a beverage presented itself, I picked up a broken el Cheapo cigar that I had repaired some days ago.
For those of you who do not know, I’m a cigar aficionado. Or, at least, I used to be. The days of cigar gatherings, collecting, trading and sampling exotic brands are long gone; these days I just smoke what I can get and try to enjoy myself by myself. There are many reasons for this—the anti-smoking laws, the fact that I am in a new country with few acquaintances, not as much money to burn, etc.—but the biggest one is, I just can’t be arsed any more.
I keep a reasonable collection of mid-priced cigars on hand, and I try to make them last. One of the ways to do this is to repair unfortunate stogies that have had poor cutting experiences. Like the one I just smoked. I had prepared it for smoking last week, but when I cut it, the cigar wrapper split and, as any cigar-knowledgeable person can tell you, that makes the cigar unsmokeable. Unless you know how to fix it.
When I was deep in my fixation, I always kept a small jar of pectin for just such emergencies. These days, I have no pectin, but I do have strawberry jam and, as you know (or should if you paid attention in nutrition class) pectin is the binding agent in jam. So I smeared a dollop of strawberry jam on the crack and put the cigar back in the humidor to dry. And it just happened to be the one I picked out today.
Emergency Cigar Repair Kit
The thing is, once I realized what I had done, I didn’t mind. I had always expected that signing a book contract could be a hallelujah moment, one that would alter the course of my life, but it was more of an “Okay, that’s great…next” sort of moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch (or as much as punch can be pleased) but it seemed like the next logical step rather than a bolt out of the blue.
Like all writers, I’ve dreamed of this moment since I first put words to paper (for me, that was back in 1967) but over the years, as I have slowly progressed up the writing ladder, I’ve come to see it, not as the holy grail or the lost plateau, but as another rung to be climbed onto so I can reach the next one.
This contract—for a modest (if I say so myself) book with a small publishing company—is not the end all; it’s another step on the journey that is being a writer. A journey that has no end.
I’ll make the best of this, you can bet on that, but what I am looking forward to now is the production of the book, the release, the (gulp) marketing and seeing how far I can take this so that my next book will go even further.
That’s what being a writer is all about; not arriving somewhere, but being the best you can be and always striving to become better.
No doubt you’ll be hearing more about this journey in the weeks to come—including other, peripheral details such as the name of my book and the publisher—but for now I am content to ruminate on the small step I have taken on this long, long journey called “writing.” A step that, perhaps, is not worth a Cuban cigar, but certainly worth one smeared with strawberry jam.
Not how I look, but certainly how I feel.