The other night I was lucky enough to have dinner with some of my author-colleagues from the Skrivarakademin, the vocational writing college I teach at in Stockholm.  I find fellow authors in general to be pretty cagey about their work, not wanting to talk about manuscripts until contracts have been signed and the actual production cycle is underway –– especially in times of publishing-industry uncertainty like this, when even authors with decades of experience and dozens of books to their names are nervous about whether their next manuscript will be accepted.

It might have been the wine, the blood-pumping-in-our-veins jazz, or the pots and pans banging in the kitchen next to us, I don’t know.  But for once people were actually talking about their manuscripts, and for once I actually spoke about mine.  Writing stories to be read in the classroom isn’t glamorous, it’s true, but it’s important work, I said, reaching tens of thousands of readers who deserve excellent literature –– and besides that, it pays well.  Also, my publisher takes care of me and sends me around the country speaking.  In the past, I haven’t been able to explain that to my colleagues and feel completely proud of my work, but after a half a dozen books for Natur och Kultur, which I myself regularly read and discuss with young people in classroom settings, I finally understand how important these books are.

Happily, I was also able to tell the other authors at the table that I’m currently in the editing phase with another publisher on the beginning of a new, long fiction manuscript. To research this project, I’ve been interviewing soldiers who’ve served in Afghanistan.

It turned out two other authors at the table were working with this same publisher, and were just as enthusiastic about their projects. We all have verbal contracts at the moment (as a matter of fact I’m still on a verbal contract with Natur och Kultur), so none of us can be sure our projects will ever see the light of day, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

Authors are usually modest to the point of timidity when discussing their work.  So it felt healthy to finally be able to discuss what we’re working on.