“Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see – because I do not happen to be a ‘Somebody’ – why my diary should not be interesting.”
(Charles Pooter in The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. Originally published in Punch, and re-published in book form in 1892.)
I feel the same as Mr Pooter. The review pages of our newspapers resound with applause for the outpourings of literary “Somebodies”. And as we hurtle towards Christmas the bestseller lists will teem with the names of celebrity “Somebodies”, who seek to enlighten us with every detail of their fascinating lives. I have self-published my own Victorian historical novel, Bring Him in Mad, which a fair number of intelligent people (not all of whom are personally known to me!) have regarded as a jolly good read. Yet no word of these glad tidings seems to have reached our great broadcasting institutions, or exalted organs of the press. Therefore, as I do not happen to be a literary “Somebody”, I have resolved to publish my own diary in these pages – “The Diary of a Literary Nobody”.
Putting the Pooterisms aside, I intend this diary to describe my continuing efforts as a self-published author to obtain media coverage of my first novel (Bring Him in Mad is a fictionalised account of the real-life Windham lunacy trial of mid-Victorian times – follow the link at the top right-hand of this page to learn more). Internet publishing is a godsend for those of us who have been overlooked by agents and publishers. It means that we can get our work into print, but as anyone who has gone down this path will tell you it is a Herculean task to publicise one’s output without commercial backing. I persevere in this, not because I desire to be famous but because enough people have apparently enjoyed my work for me to suppose that it would interest a wider readership if only it were put before them.
I also aim for the diary to chart the progress of my second novel. This has the same narrator as the first (retired solicitor George Phinney, looking back from his Edwardian old age upon cases he conducted in his youth). The new story has a distinctly maritime flavour and takes place against the backdrop of blockade running during the American civil war. I have it researched and plotted out, though I have only just started writing. My first book took six years to produce, and went through two completely separate versions. It has taken me that long to learn how to write! I tend to go over my work repeatedly, and we shall see if I can move more quickly this time whilst still creating a polished text.
Any reader curious to know more about myself and my oeuvre might like to follow the link to my website at the top right-hand of this page. They may also care to return here from time-to-time to review developments in my “Diary of a Literary Nobody”. I plan to post something of about this length in the first week or so of each month, plus the occasional supplementary blog concerning anything that catches my attention. I hope that these postings will be of interest to existing authors (self-published or otherwise), aspiring authors, and to those who simply share with me a lively interest in books and history.
The banner illustration at the top of the page is a detail from The Dancing Platform at Cremorne Gardens (Phoebus Levin, 1864) Museum of London. This setting is featured in the chapter of Bring Him in Mad entitled “A Christmas Pantomime”.