Monday, 5 September 2011

I won't let it change me

I somehow thought it would be a little different. My letterbox would rattle unexpectedly, and there on the doormat would be lying an auspicious envelope.

I'm not completely sure how a simple item of stationery can be seen as auspicious, but there you go.

I imagined I would rip it open with fevered fingers and excitedly scan its contents. There would be a letter - probably with nice a gold-block letterhead from a publishing house - a statement and, last but not least, a cheque.

The amount on the cheque would be almost unimportant. As long as it clearly comes from a publisher and has the word 'Royalties' stamped across it in large letters - red would be a nice idea - that would do the trick.

I'd be able to take it to the bank and smile in a way that I thought was nonchalant as I handed it over to the cashier. She (for it would have to be a she) would look up at me, doe-eyed.

"Oh, this?" I'd say. "It's just a royalty payment from sales of my book."

Did I mention I'd had a book published?


This was not how it happened. In fact, the reality was a little more...real. I received an email. For once this wasn't coming from a stranger seeking to part me from my hard-earned. In fact, it was telling me that some money was, for once, coming my way. And no Nigerian princes were to be involved.

"Here is your royalty payment for sales from 31 July," it said. This was indeed a thrilling moment. i had earned money - real money - from the sweat of my brow. I could now hold my head high alongside the Hemingways, the Wildes, the Tolkiens of this world.

I'm aware I've chosen three dead writers there. Bear with me.

My excitement was only marginally lessened when I noticed that the total amount due to me was £3.56. Probably best that it didn't come as a cheque. I don't think I'd be impressing many bank cashiers, somehow.

But there are wider effects. As my publisher is based in the States, they withheld something like $1.00 as tax. I like to think that somewhere in Idaho a Federal employee has been able to buy some replacement staples for the office as a direct result of my writing. Enjoy your staples, unknown filing clerk. You're welcome.

Now then, if anyone out there hasn't bought a copy, perhaps you can oblige. Who knows? Perhaps we can raise enough to buy that person a stapler?

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