Sunday 22 October 2017


Now that CBe is slowing down, foot on the brake, here’s a thing I’m so, so happy to be doing less of: chasing.

I don’t mean the big things, such as love and happiness and the surefire bestseller, but all the little daily things: chasing unpaid invoices, chasing attachments that were not attached and the stuff that was promised for Wednesday but didn’t arrive, chasing reviews and quotes and potential readers (marketing is chasing) and a glimpse of a shortlisting and discounts smaller by 2% and sums of money so tiny that in the end you just shrug. Chasing myself. You know when you walk by an office and look into those open-plan spaces of infinite dread and decorum and you wonder what everyone at their desks is actually doing? They are chasing. ‘I’m wondering if you got my email of last week (month/year/century).’ ‘Just following up …’ ‘I don’t want to hassle but …’ ‘So sorry to hear that you’re ill/ engulfed by marking/ have forgotten you ever said you were interested/ your father-in-law broke his leg, but maybe we could rearrange …’

Being chased by others, not uncommonly. Chasing is circular and has somehow contrived to be the prime economic activity of our time. Big people employ little people to do their chasing for them, and then chase them, all the way down the line, because they themselves are being chased. A link to my all-time favourite piece of academic research – entitled ‘Environmental Effects on Compulsive Tail Chasing in Dogs’, based on a sample of 368 dogs and co-written by eight authors based in Finland, France and Canada – is here.

The hook on which I’ll hang this post is the Small Publishers Book Fair (we all have to be under 6 foot, seriously), taking place in the Conway Hall, London (WC1R 4RL) on 10/11 November, a Friday and a Saturday. I love this book fair. For two days I’ll be stuck behind a table, static, and I can’t chase and I can’t run away. No responsibility, except for what’s on the table. This is a humdrum form of bliss. Please come.

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