Over the weekend, uncorrected proofs of the book began plopping through letterboxes to land with a meaty thud on the hallway carpets, soaked with the blood of gutted authors, of journalists and reviewers across the UK.
This means that in the coming weeks I can expect to get an idea of how the critics are going to receive the book. You can perhaps tell from my opening sentence that I am feeling a little nervous. I probably shouldn't be as worried as I am, since hundreds of people read the novel and liked it in the process of winning the Pratchett award, so at least some people are going to have positive things to say.
My wife tells me I am typically Scottish, in that my idea of a happy ending is one in which not quite everybody dies horribly. For example, we have argued down the years about this short story I wrote for Chapman magazine many moons ago. I still maintain it ends happily, while Nats says it is completely miserable.
On the book front, the fact that the title and cover have been well received, in fact building up some excitement, has made me even more concerned. A more optimistic person would be very happy about this, but instead I am fretting that increased expectations = harsher judgements = worse reviews. Perhaps my wife is right, and I am just a miserable git.
I take some solace in this quote from Anne Enright: "Only bad writers think that their work is really good."
Of course, I could actually be a bad writer with a realistic assessment of his own work rather than a good writer being too hard on himself. The problem is that when you have poured hundreds of hours into creating something, it is impossible to objectively judge its worth. Step in the critics and public.
Anyway, my Glaswegian outlook on life probably explains why I am expecting the worst. Nats (who grew up in Cumbernauld and should therefore be even more negative) is the opposite. I guess we'll find out soon enough who has the most realistic view.