Selling self

Tuesday this week I sat by my stall in Alison's Poolewe Tuesday Market, promoting (i.e. selling) my new books; the autobiography SO WHAT? and the novel Like An Angel Sings. 

Although I have much historic experience of selling my stuff in markets and to shops around the Highlands of Scotland I could not say I have always enjoyed it. That might be because it demands a considerable degree of self-adulation - and self-adulation was always regarded as a quality for those either of low-caste or of politics! In the author's preamble to my new autobiography, SO WHAT? I quote Shakespeare's Julius Caesar ... I cannot tell what you and other men / Think of this (that is, his own) life / but, for my single self, / I had as lief not be as live to be / In awe of such a thing as I myself.

All that aside, if you want to go through the immense pains and pleasures of writing your own life story - never mind fictional stories of the lives of fictional others - you had better be prepared to get yourself out there, doing a hell of a lot of selling both soft and hard. There are few things more depressing to a writer than the sight of dusty piles of his unloved / unwanted, high cost books! Of course one thing more depressing is the target's flat negative repeated many times more than the occasional positive.

In America they spend a deal of time teaching tyro salesmen how to react (or not to react) when confronted by the target customer's classic instruction: 'pick up your shit and fuck off'! But in all truth I have seldom experienced rudeness on anything like that scale when being blanked out by a prospect. And certainly never at the Poolewe Market or anywhere in these Highlands of Scotland.

Why did I give up on the markets two years back? Some will know from these blogs or my new autobiography SO WHAT? that not long after Delia died I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, my life then potentially having its sell-by label. I became easily tired and lost a lot of my physical strength. That was when the owner / manager of the regular Tuesday market at Poolewe, Alison Rushbrooke, came to my rescue. She actually volunteered to run my stall for me. Where else than the Highlands of Scotland would you encounter such an unbelievable gesture of goodwill?

Anyway I was pleased this week both with my market - the closest to being once more one of a comfortable team - and its sales results. We all react with happiness to praise, however well concealed and the greatest of that happiness comes when somebody actually puts their hand in their pocket and hands you some of their hard earned cash in exchange for the product of your own daily toil and talent. That's true whether it be in the form of an end of month salary cheque or the purchase of one of my books.

The feedback is good. I really feel like a writer, age immaterial, cancer immaterial.

If writing is architecture rather than interior design, as claimed by my friend Ernest Hemingway, then I can the my Taj Mahal arising.

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