Kate Atkinson reveals she’d rather not be published

Hugely popular British writer Kate Atkinson revealed that she’d prefer not to be published to a Hay festival audience this weekend. She said that other writers look at her as if she’s insane when she brings this preference up, I can’t say I’m surprised.

I let my mind occasionally wander to a familiar daydream that sees me able to walk into a bookshop and pick up a book with my name on the cover, and while it’s not the thing that keeps me writing – I can’t even begin to pin down exactly what that it – it is a significant part of the process.

The act of writing to me suggests a reader, even if it’s only your future self, but without a reader it seems a horribly one-sided pursuit. And if there’s one thing I’ve found I can’t stop myself doing it’s letting friends, family and whoever I can talk into it, read stories as soon as I’ve got them in decent shape. Writing is about sharing to me, imperfectly maybe, but sharing anyway.

I first discovered Kate Atkinson back when so many others did, with the publication of Behind the Scenes at the Museum and I’ve devoured and enjoyed every book she’s published since then. She makes mention of how uncomfortable reviews and harsh critics are for ‘tender’ writers, always the downside for any published writer – but surely massive sales salve the battered ego somewhat?

She said that her ideal situation would be to have enough money to write but not be published, and her comments seem to indicate that the time pressures of a publishing life contribute to this desire. That I suppose I can understand but I hope she continues to be published for as long as she writes work she’s pleased with. And I’ll keep my own dreams alive for now.

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