October 11th, 2010. It was close on ten years ago that I wrote the following sentence: "This'll be the last one of these for a little while, I think." In the year or so leading up to that, I'd managed to publish six books via the print-on-demand outfit lulu.com: one collection of travel pieces scraped from the website, two volumes of Edinburgh Festival reviews, and three similar volumes of London Film Festival reviews. I had a couple of vague plans in mind for future books, but I predicted that it'd be a while before I had enough material in hand to create those, so I quickly knocked off some basic ebook editions of the original six in time for Christmas 2010 and left the publishing world for a spell.
In that ten year gap, The Belated Birthday Girl has published nine books: admittedly, to a degree, they're all variations on the same book, but still. Basically, I need to publish three more volumes before her 2021 diary comes out, in order to have any hope of keeping up with her.
I started the process in April. Just finishing it off now.
The irony, of course, is that the three volumes I'm about to publish all relate to festivals that either aren't happening this year (Edinburgh) or are happening in some sort of hybrid yet-to-be-confirmed format (LFF). Bloody virus, eh? But if it wasn't for the bloody virus, you probably wouldn't be seeing all this literary activity now.
As I may have mentioned in passing, in mid-April I was put on furlough for six weeks. I could have just sat around at home all day, doing whatever the Twenties equivalent of 'flicking off to Trisha' is: probably the key thing that stopped me was the knowledge that The Belated Birthday Girl would still be in the house, doing her actual job. What I needed was some sort of defined project with an end goal - and there were three of them that had been sitting on my personal to-do list since the end of last year. I started the first one on day 1: by day 40, the final working day of the six weeks, I had proof copies in hand of all three books. Getting to the end of an enforced period away from work, and having a physical object I could show people afterwards, seemed like an important thing to me.
To be fair, they weren't actually finished by then: the covers were all temporary affairs, and the text inside them needed a good going over with a big red pen. But that forty day burst of copying, pasting and rearranging was definitely the hard bit. Everything else, I've been able to fit in during odd gaps in the working day.
So today, I'm pleased to announce that Spank's Edinburgh Diaries Volume Three: 2010-2019 is now on sale. Its release was, as you can see, carefully timed to coincide with the not-happening 2020 Edinburgh Festival (though I may need to get back to you about that). You know how this works - between 2010 and 2019, I made seven trips to the Edinburgh Festival, and wrote daily reports about everything I saw there on this site. The book is basically made up of all those reports, tidied up for publication and given context with a ridiculous number of all-new footnotes.1 All your favourite stories are there, from the time the film editor of the Radio Times was spectacularly rude about me, to, erm, well I'm sure there's other stuff like that in there too.
All available now for the bargain price of £11 plus shipping! (Ebook edition to follow later in the year.) If you'd like to try before you buy, there's a twelve page preview available for free: if you'd rather just take a chance, go straight to Lulu and buy the full book.
And if you like the idea of celebrating the absence of the Edinburgh Festival with a book about the Festival's earlier years, come back over the next couple of months as I do something rather similar for the London Film Festival...
1 63 of them, in fact.