Welcome to Book Promo Hell

I have a book coming out.

Not a new one; no, it’s worse than that. It’s the same book I published last year, but in paperback form. I mean, it’ll be cheaper now, which is good. More people will be able to afford it. But the problem is that my audience – my passionate, loyal audience who take such great care of me – have heard all my nonsense about it before. I don’t want to test their patience. After all, most of them have bought the book already.

What to say about this book? There are a number of established approaches, and vast majority of them are annoying.

We’ve all come across the guy who suddenly follows you on Twitter (along with 120,000 other people); when you follow back, a direct message pings in, saying, Hey Fan! Buy my book! We’ve all come across the author who spends 90% of each year squeeing that she’s so blessed and thrilled and over-the-moon, and that OMG-she’s-actually-crying-here. We’ve seen a new comment arrive on an Instagram photo and thought, ‘ooh, real human contact!’ only to discover that it’s a bot saying, Great content! Check out my feed!

We’ve all wished these people a slow, lonely death. Or maybe that’s just me.

But then, I sympathise with them – just a little bit. Because I have to talk about my new book, and I’m trying very hard not to be annoying. Obviously, I would like people to buy my book. I worked hard on it. I lavished it with the best moments of my attention. This book, in particular, says important things about me and my life that I would like people to understand. Since the first edition came out, I have received countless letters from readers who told me it meant a lot to them to have that information out there. That’s made me feel like more people should read it.

There are other factors, too. I like writing books. In fact, it’s vital to me. Writing makes my brain feel right. I’ve worked all my adult life – and for most of my childhood – to become good enough at writing books to get them published. I would like to carry on publishing books into the future, please. To be allowed to do that, I need this book to work on a basic level. I need for it not to bomb. I need to not look like a terrible bet.

So what I would really like to say is this:

I humbly present you with my book. I think you might like it, and I’d be ever so grateful if you’d consider buying it. I’m embarrassed to ask, and I wouldn’t do so if it wasn’t important to me. 

But, honestly, that probably wouldn’t work. It would disappear into the fog. At the very least, I’d have to repeat my message a few times to make sure that as many people as possible would see it. But would they share it? Not sure. I need them to share it, because that’s how the message gets out. To sell the book – to more than my friends and family – I have to escape my own audience and talk to their networks. I have to find things to say that are interesting enough for them to want to share. Failing that, I have to rely on their generosity, and hope they share because they want to help me.

But most of it is out of my control anyway. What makes a book sell? Probably not the author bleating about it on Twitter, although it’s a start. It’s copies in bookshops (usually discounted), the Amazon algorithm working in your favour, a subject matter that captures the interest of magazines and newspapers at that exact moment in time. Pre-existing networks being ready to receive your book; the author’s personal contacts. Publishing buzz. The right cover. A concept that readers understand at a distance. The advocacy of one, powerful person, or word-of-mouth of many. Just one of these things, or all of the above. Even with them in place, it still won’t always happen. The world is scattered with authors who wrote really, really great books that didn’t break through.

But a few times this year, I’ve been told off. I’ve sat at author events and been asked, Why didn’t you write about it in this newspaper? Why didn’t you appear on this show? Why don’t you give a reading here? Why weren’t there posters on the Underground? If I were you, I’d be pushing my books around from door-to-door, begging people to buy them.

Trust me, if you’re a reader feeling frustrated that your favourite book hasn’t received the attention it deserves, then the author is feeling that ten times over. But it’s really not all that simple. Pitches to the media and festivals are often ignored. Advertising campaigns cost thousands, and publishers will only invest in them when they’re pretty sure they’ll recoup their investment. I will not even discuss my feeling about selling books door-to-door.

Do you remember that moment in Sex In The City when the speaker at a dating conference tells Charlotte to ‘get out there.’ Carrie stands up, takes the mic, hugs her friend, and says ‘She’s out there!’ Honestly, most authors are out there too. They are doing everything they can. It’s exhausting and often cringingly embarrassing, and we are always, always trying to tread the line between being enthusiastic and informative, and being downright repellent.

I’m not saying this to moan. It’s a glorious game, and I’m glad to have a stake in it. But my god is it terrifying. I am but one, small person with many limitations (most of which are detailed in my new book; did I mention I had one coming out?), and I’m doing what I can. All I want to say, really, is that when you see me wittering on about my book, it’s probably ineffective, and might even be a bit annoying. Forgive me. It’s all just a displacement activity; something to quell the anxiety. It seems better to do something than nothing.


If you love a book and want it to fly, here are a few things you could do, and why:

• Write a one-line review on Amazon and give it five stars (it’s quick, free, and the more reviews a book has, the more likely it is to come up in searches)

• Order your copy from your local bookshop (this will make the bookseller aware that it exists, and that there’s demand)

• Order it from your library (libraries buy lots of books; and authors get about 8p for every borrow)

• Tweet about it, Facebook it, Insta it (research shows that readers hear about a book at least 3 times before they buy)

• Recommend it to your favourite blogger/podcaster (this links your favourite author to new audiences)

• Email your local lit festival or bookstore that hosts readings, and tell them you’d love to see the author make an appearance (they might not have heard of us!)

• Invite the author to talk to your reading group or other network (we’re mostly delighted to be asked, and can always Skype if it’s far)

Guest post #6: Deb – “I have vast wells of empathy”

I had no idea I might be autistic until I was 45, despite many people joking about it over the years, because of silly things like having to have all the cup handles facing the same way when doing the drinks trolley at work. I am generally oblivious to what people are getting at if they don’t just say what they mean (which they rarely do). Social cues are lost on me. I have trained myself to do eye contact as it seems to be important to people, but it’s deeply uncomfortable and I can’t keep it up for long. I am tactless and can’t do small talk, but I have vast wells of empathy that I have learned to put strategies in place for, to prevent me becoming overwhelmed. Parties and social gatherings make no sense to me, and are usually excruciating, so I don’t go to them. I often have a strong sense of having been dropped off on the wrong planet.

By chance, in 2017, I saw a video by Tony Attwood, in which he talked about how autism presents differently in females than it does in males. The video was 30 minutes long, and I spent most of that time with my jaw dropped as he basically describe me and my life, in quite some detail. That was when I realised this might be the answer; I’m not weird (the word most often thrown at me at school), I’m not on the wrong planet, there’s nothing really ‘wrong’ with me…it could be autism! It really did explain an awful lot.

Diagnosis was brilliant for me. I often cite it, along with marrying my husband and having my son, as one of the best things I ever did. Over the four-hour assessment, the psychologist’s main concern was that I was not currently using my talents in any way. And she was right. Having written a novel several years before, I had by my mid-40s become so worn down by life, and exhausted by the constant masking autistics do in order to function in the world, that I’d completely given up on any kind of creative outlet. I no longer had the energy or the inclination, and I was thoroughly miserable.

I was given a much-needed kick up the backside to start trying to fulfil my potential, and now I’m enrolled on a Creative Writing degree (distance learning, naturally), and have written a poem every day for 4 months, with no intention of ever stopping. I feel so much better now I’m using my creativity, and it’s true what they say – the more you use it, the more inspired and creative you become. I’m entering poetry competitions and submitting to magazines, which I would never have had the confidence to do before assessment. I also have a much greater understanding of my difficulties and strengths, and no longer wander the world thinking, ‘What is wrong with me?’ I’ve found a little peace of mind.

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Guest post #5: Sonia Boué – ‘I navigate like a middle aged Gretel’

It’s easy to get bogged down in what autism is and what it isn’t. I’m beginning to think there are more of us than anyone can yet conceive, so it could be you!

Autism means I am creative and obsessive. I’m forgetful yet sometimes unable to let go.

I’ve compensated for autism all my life, so taking the lid off it with my diagnosis two years ago has been a process.

Some days I’m staggered at what I have achieved in my life despite an impressive bunch of co-morbid conditions. Dyslexia and dyscalculia are far more bothersome in many ways. Yet pockets of grief empty out as I absorb how disabled I can be when I can’t compensate. Like a badly tuned radio my antenna buzzes with interference. Periods of desolation can follow.

I dread those times. Existence feels tenuous – I am a ghost woman.

It has taken me a long time to understand that others just don’t experience the same sensory onslaught that I do. I thought this was normal and that I was a just a hopeless wuss. There are days when vertigo topples me and tinnitus destroys all patience. Such days appear on a whim and most of my wardrobe becomes unwearable.

Organising can be a challenge but I’ve come to learn that I do have a system – it’s just that I can’t do anything in a straight line. Associative thinking dominates and so I’m good a setting tasks in motion but I’m quickly distracted. I find the trick is not to censure but rather to celebrate it as a method. If I keep going I can get the job of five people done.

This is where you need to take the long view. Hurrah! Being older is a plus. 

I’m good a recognising patterns, and with the aid of my diagnosis I’ve observed that I’m a person who simply lays trails. Working backwards is another excellent life hack for those of us who are thin on working memory. I navigate like a middled aged Gretel, and all of my trails eventually lead home. This is how I’ve managed to produce a body of creative work which is multi-form and disparate yet is entirely coherent. My strategy is now to keep going because what used to feel ‘scatter-gun’ has emerged as intelligent thinking (albeit of a different kind). 

Another deep benefit of autism is hyper-focus and the extraordinary sense of creative flow which comes from time spent in this state. Flow lifts us up where we belong, to borrow a song! In flow there is no tinnitus or vertigo, and my radio station is perfectly tuned. In flow clothes don’t seem to matter and the plates stop spinning. There is only one job, and in it I can be magisterially able. I love the stillness and perfection of flow. Hyper-focus is surely a superpower for autistics.

My family keep me anchored and my art practice makes me soar – I know that I’m lucky to have this balance in my life.


Sonia Boué is a multiform artist. You can find her at soniaboue.co.uk or as @soniaboue on Twitter.

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Guest Post #4: AutisticScienceLady – “The internet gave me space to exist in my own skin”

Lots of stories of ours are about our social challenges in life.

I want to tell you a happy story.

When I was 13, I started playing Day of Defeat, an online first-person shooter. I really enjoyed it but was terrified of using a microphone. When I finally used callouts in the game, people would call me a pre-pubescent boy and all other kinds of things, mostly college or high school boys. But at least I knew they were obnoxious and not to listen to them – not like in real life. I even joined a clan of genuinely nice people. They were WWII veterans and were super nice! We had a few clan matches but it ended after a few months.

During this time, my brother and I started playing another game, an obscure half-life 2 mod. It was an objective-based first-person shooter team game. There were a lot of people playing this game who were also in junior high. I ended up getting to know the community through playing and found a lot of friends through typing and talking in chat while playing. It was the only place I could be myself. I wasn’t scared of the microphone anymore since I knew the community. We had a league, created clans, analyzed team composition and loadouts, and scrimmaged with other teams. I moved states right before high school and never really made friends there but was still supported by my online friends. I was having fun with a group of people who understood me and didn’t judge me (and made banter-y jokes to everyone). Many of them also deal with social anxiety, agoraphobia, or just plain awkwardness, so I didn’t worry about “seeming weird.” We kept the group together after the league ended, and started playing other games together, just to hang out really. I got to know one person particularly well throughout high school, and we started dating long-distance in college. We’d watch TV shows and play Minecraft together. After college, we moved in, and it’s been a pretty great 4 years so far. We’ve met quite a few of our online friends at gaming conventions and continue to meet up every year. I was actually the driving force of those meet-ups.

People think of online games as silly and online friends as not real friendships. I have gotten pity hugs when I tell someone I have “online friends,” but they cannot fathom the community that I am talking about. What I really mean: I am going to interact with some of my best friends that I’ve known since junior high. I am going to go socialize and be accepted for who I am. People often see me as “retreating” into my shell, and still, sometimes I feel bad that they missed out.

The internet gave me the space to exist in my own skin. It still does today. And I wouldn’t be where I am right now without it. So thank you, friends.

 

AutisticScienceLady blogs at www.autisticsciencelady.wordpress.com.

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Guest Post #3: Melissa Murphy – ‘I finally know myself’

From my very earliest memories onwards, I knew I was different. I had recently landed on these Irish shores, selectively mute, hyperlexic and very foreign. My father, the chain-smoking Turk with broken English. My mom, the prodigal wildchild returned home over burnt bridges, to write poetry in Irish no less. With that background, what chance did I stand? No doubt about it, I was weird. An enigma. To everyone outside my family, perhaps to my family (who called me a Space Cadet),  but also to myself. Who was I, really? Why was I so different? These questions would become my focus, my obsession, for the rest of my life.

I developed an early interest in trying to “place” myself. Categorise myself. Starting with the most obviously: Horoscopes. I was a Pisces with Scorpio Rising. Born in the Year of the Snake. A Water Snake. I became quite an expert, filling in Star Charts, learning the nuances. But that wasn’t enough.

I poured over the Enneagram, thinking I could unlock who I was with a personality trait test. Then Myers Briggs, with its infernal acronyms that just confused me. Could my Numerology Personality Number hold the key? Each and every self-test I could find. My teenage years passed while I scoured the library for psychology books that might explain to me who I was.

Was I bi-polar? Borderline personality disorder? I did at one point get diagnosed with “atypical depression” but the psychiatrist said I was “a perplexing case” as he too couldn’t put his finger on what made me who I was.

And then, I had kids. And after some years my son was referred for an ASD assessment. I have a cousin who is autistic. But he has trouble speaking, and very high needs, and he shaped my views of what it meant to be autistic. So I’d discounted being autistic, until some of the traits were highlighted in my son. My mother thought I was jumping the gun, when I expressed my concerns about my son. “But all that stuff, those behaviours, are perfectly normal. You were just like that at his age.” Nevertheless, I thought it best to get him tested. Then, when answering the questions in the Parents Questionnaire about my son, I realised I could have given the exact same answers about myself. The penny dropped. Those long years of searching were over. I now knew who and what I am. I finally know myself. I am autistic. And knowing this has made all the difference.

Melissa Murphy blogs at Autistic Zebra

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Guest Post #2: Lindsay – ‘Maybe I have Aspergers. But it’s me, and I like it.’

Hi, I’m Lindsay. I love landscape, love Britain, I run (for fun! WHAT?!), I have a reasonably successful career, a husband and two children. (So far, so normal.) I love music, write poetry, and never know how to greet you on arriving or leaving social situations. (OK. Stick with me.) I can smell a sneeze, and when my children are ill. I can feel the high, ringing white noise of January deep in my bones. I see time as a shape. The days of the week are coloured.

Lost you yet?

I think, although this has not been confirmed by anything other than a rising suspicion (and the wholehearted agreement of my husband), that the way I experience the world might be a bit different to whatever ‘normal’ is. I’m probably some way down the Aspergers Spectrum I reckon.

I’ve managed to be pretty happy without realising this about myself until recently – I have great friends, can make people laugh, love deeply, and have held down sensible jobs without too much drama. But it’s with a sort of gleeful recognition I’m coming to understand there’s a tick list of traits which actually explain some of the arc of my life.

It’s a great relief to recognise that, whilst a lot of the time I probably am just ‘being a dickhead’ (sic, my husband), some of the time my idiosyncrasies are actually because I’m wired to experience the world differently to other people. Knowing the tendencies of Aspergers gives me a way to understand and honestly own the characteristics which I feel strongly on the inside, and have spent a lifetime trying to explain away, or compensate for on the outside.

Like I will remember the number plate on your parents’ car from twenty years ago, but not send you a birthday card, and see nothing wrong with this. I find eye contact hard, but force myself to make it. I think to some people I probably come across as utterly cold and indifferent, and probably a bit stuck up, because I just cannot pretend interest unless I genuinely feel it. I do still try, and mostly succeed in (and enjoy) being sociable, because after nearly forty years I have observed enough to see that there are unwritten rules if you want to get along. Full disclosure – this is my second attempt at writing this, as I suspected the first version actually made me sound like a cold stone dead megabitch. I’m not. (I don’t think.) (At least on the inside).

 If you’re like me, maybe you too don’t ever get nervous, even about things that you really probably should be nervous about. Maybe you too turn the radio down by two tiny clicks every morning to a level you can bear, versus the level your partner prefers. Maybe you too would happily lunch on the same cheese and pickle sandwich for the rest of your mortal days, should the need ever arise (can’t imagine a world where I’d be forced to test this hypothesis, but I quite honestly like the sound of it).

So maybe I have Aspergers. But it’s me, and I like it. Especially now that I know it.

 

Lindsay is a freelance writer, author of the brilliant blog And Other Idiots, and can be found arsing about on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as @andotheridiots

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Guest post #1: Rebecca Benson – ‘I wasn’t just quirky’

Last year I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.  By the time I was I knew it about myself and had done for 6 months.  The other 43 years of my life had been lived with no clue of it! 

Aged 40 I had a breakdown. At this point I had a successful career as a Detective Sergeant on the murder squad.  I had a great marriage and two cats and a rabbit.  But a complaint pushed me over the edge and I was off sick with stress for a few months before I resigned because I could not see a way back to it.  I never understood the complaints about my rudeness, to me it was just truth telling. 

A few months after I left I tackled my unacceptable relationship with alcohol, a spiral that I was in that I hated, and I quit drinking.

Turns out drinking was what held the Autism at bay!  Helped me socialise.  Helped my brain switch off for a few hours.  So a year later when I was sober at my brother in laws wedding, my first social expedition since going teetotal,  I found myself in a right state.  Unable to connect with anyone, unable to hear anyone speak over the music, generally having a dreadful time. When an acceptable time came to leave the party I returned to my room and had what I would now call a meltdown.  I threw a box of chocolates across the room in frustration.  What was it?  In my head I could hear a colleague of mine telling me I had Aspergers.  Years ago I had supervised him whilst his sons were being diagnosed and he had told me he thought I was.  I laughed and never looked back.

Until this moment.  I googled that night, took tests, had light-bulb moments, cried.  This was me.  I wasn’t just quirky, there was a real reason why I didn’t ever fit in, why I didn’t have any friends, why I couldn’t do small talk, why I couldn’t hear at parties, why people complained I was rude and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Where I thought I was just single minded in giving up smoking years ago and drinking recently was a trait. 

It was weird realising that I wasn’t just me and that the things I did were all on a tick list.  But it was a relief as well.  It’s made it a little easier to cope with life, to stop trying to achieve, to stop feeling like a failure.  It turns out its pretty usual for a 40 year old autistic woman to have a breakdown after years of trying to mask, years of unsuccessfully trying to fit in with everyone around her. 

I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year and generally been able to improve my experience of life.  Autism is just about how my brain is wired.  Different, not worse. 

You can find Rebecca on Twitter or Instagram as @wishvintage.

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Guest Posts

Since The Electricity of Every Living Thing came out, I’ve been getting lots of emails from women saying, ‘Finally, I recognise myself here.’

I know that, when I first thought I might be autistic, I wanted to devour stories from others like me, but I struggled to find much.

So here, I’d like to create a pool of stories that reflect real life for autistic people, written in our own voices. Would you like to write a guest post about an aspect of your life? Drop me a line using my contact form below!

You can read some of my own stories, from my newsletter, here.

Submission guidelines

  • Stories should be no more than 500 words
  • I don’t edit, so please ensure your story is proof-read and that you’re happy with it
  • I reserve the right to refuse any stories that aren’t suitable – please get in touch first to check.

Tinyletter 19: Forget usefulness. Being human is enough.

Hello,

When I was a little girl, my gran used to take me to see my great aunt Betty once a week. I loved those visits: her house was like a time capsule of the 1930s, and Betty had a certain wicked glint in her eye that made everything seem like an adventure. But best of all, I got to sit with her son, Colin.

Colin had been born with what was once called ‘water on the brain’, and Betty had carefully tended to him in that house since she brought him home, having been told he couldn’t possibly survive to adulthood. Well, he did, and grew up to be a wonderful, giggling mountain of a man. He was confined mainly to one chair in the living room, with his Dansette player next to him, and he would alternate between playing old big band records, chewing his knuckles and demanding ‘plain chips’. He always knew my name (‘K! K!’) and had never got out of the habit of calling my mother ‘fat Sue’ (a relic of her childhood), and then cackling at her ruffled feathers. Betty’s care of Colin was legendary: his white hair was always neatly clipped, he was amply fed and, possibly as a result, his clothes were made especially for him. He was never hidden away, or resented. He was adored.

I’ve told this story many times before, but I’m telling it again because, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching closely as the debate rages around a book called ‘To Siri With Love’. It’s a memoir written by Judith Newman, the mother of an autistic teenage boy, and, amongst other things, she wonders whether he’s capable of thought, discusses his most intimate habits (openly acknowledging that it’s without his consent) and discloses that she’s retained Medical Power of Attorney so that she can possibly sterilise him when he turns 18.

I’m not going to bother reviewing this book – others have already done a great job. But I will say this: when people start discussing eugenics in the same breath as autism, we must become very, very concerned indeed, because this isn’t exactly a new idea. In Nazi Germany, autistic children were put down like dogs in hospital wards, and their ‘mentally feeble’ adult counterparts were sent to die in concentration camps*. This threat of sterilisation is not a joke: it’s a gesture towards obliterating a set of traits that are divergent from a very narrowly-defined range of normal.

And yet check the celebrity endorsements of this book (from people like Nigella Lawson and Jon Stewart who should know better): ‘moving’ they say; ‘heartwarming’. It’s like they see an entirely different text to me. Or rather, a different subtext, because I see a child being dehumanised and humiliated. But for so many people, still, autism is otherness, blankness, and strangeness. It’s defined, for them, by the autistic person being weird. It makes them uncomfortable, and that’s all that matters.

It astonishes me that Judith Newman can spend so many years raising an autistic child, and still not fully see his humanity. But it astonishes me far less that some sectors of the public have so rapturously received her book, because it reflects the version of autism that we’re fed over and over again: strange, mechanical boys, with no emotion or empathy. This kind of myth is only perpetuated by common consent. Could it be that society prefers this version of autism, because it allows them to imagine human automata, devoid of any of the soft feelings they find so admirable in themselves? Could we be inventing a convenient straw dog that allows us to praise the contrasting depths of our own profound feeling?

I can only hope that more diverse autistic voices begin to break through, and to tell their own stories. I can’t wait to be a part of that next year. But for that to have any effect, everyone – even those who think they know all about autism – needs to be willing to listen, and to hear something new.

So, apologies for a long letter today, and to repeat a story I know I’ve shared before. But Colin and Betty are a touchstone for me; they are where my values were formed, and where my family showed me that we love everyone equally, regardless of any brutal reckoning of worth or usefulness. I initially thought about arguing in this letter that autistic people are far more valuable to society that people like Judith Newman believe; that society would collapse pretty quickly without our contribution to the gene pool. But I now realise I want to say something different. Societies should be judged by their care of the most vulnerable, and their ability to respect people who can’t take care of themselves. It doesn’t matter what you can do for society. It doesn’t matter whether you’re useful. It only matters that you are a human being. That is more than enough.

See you soon,
Katherine

*See Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes or Donvan & Zucker’s In A Different Key. 

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Tinyletter 18: Christmas parties and hiding under the coats

Hello,

Well, it’s landed: the annual invitation to a Christmas party that I’m almost certainly not cool enough to attend. Every year, I wonder if it will come, or if they will wisely leave me off the list this time around. The problem is that I’m always slightly beguiled by being asked at all, and so I tend to RSVP with an enthusiastic ‘YES’ and then don’t turn up on the night. It’s terrible behaviour, and I know it.

I absolutely hate parties. They are noisy and visually chaotic, the lights do unpredictable things, and the guests are often drowned in perfume. It’s a perfect sensory storm. Far too often, I’m invited on my own, and don’t know anyone else in the room, which means agonising, uncertain small-talk, and trying to remember not to cling to the first person who shows the tiniest spark of interest. Forget ‘you will always find me in the kitchen at parties’ – in my case, I’ll most likely be locked in the loos, reading something good on my Kindle. In my younger days I occasionally resorted to hiding under the pile of coats in the host’s bedroom. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

But parties are a skill that everyone ought to have, and in an industry like publishing, they’re a fact of life. Those fleeting acquaintances made at parties are useful, and the the people you meet are interesting. I’m not completely hopeless at parties: I can make small-talk, and I can smile and laugh along to jokes. The problem is that mostly I can’t hear anything because my ears cut out when there’s too much noise, or, more accurately, I can hear the barman clearing up the glasses just as well as I can hear the person yelling in my ear. I can’t filter anything out. It all comes at once: the chatter, the music, the perfume, the lights, the smell of the cheeseboard, the itchiness of a formal dress and the agonising social pressure of knowing that you’re not like the rest of the people in the room, and that you’re probably embarrassing yourself in ways that you couldn’t even guess. In all honesty, I find it pretty hard to be there at all.

But at the same time, I hate to be left out. I always try to come, even if my nerve fails me at the last moment. I’ll probably be drunker than I ought to be, just to steady my nerve. Every now and then, I might just enjoy myself. Who knows: perhaps this year is my year, when I’ll finally work out how to dance to Last Christmas (or, indeed, how to dance at all), and I’ll wow the room with my fascinating repartee. Maybe. Or maybe you’ll have to hunt for me under the coats.

See you next week,
Katherine

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