The Ride (6): The Lull and the Head Shot


I’ve pressed send. And now I wait.

I feel excited, but also strangely powerless. It’s all down to them now – my publishers are going to evaluate what I’ve done, check the MS for flow and scope and whatever else. I sit and let the momentum carry me forward.

Do I feel like a writer? –  Sort of, I guess.

After my meeting with Cranachan, I said to my semi-professional photographer friend Robert that I might need an up-to-date head shot at some point. After all, he had done one for me three years ago when I made the Kelpies Prize shortlist (which I didn’t win, since you asked – the hugely successful Alex McCall did, with The Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens).

Anyway, as it happens my publishers never asked, just happily used the three-year-old photo – and I forgot all about it. Until I got a message from Robert a few days ago: ‘Doing an author head shot for someone else tomorrow – all the kit will be set up. Fancy having a new pic taken? No hassle.’

Well. I didn’t think about it. Just said I’d be there – it’s a gift, it’s a chance, it’s likely I’ll need it at some point. Yes, of course! I’ll be there!

As soon as I put the phone down, the bona-fide onslaught of self-doubt began. My hair – I hadn’t been to the hairdresser for months. My figure! Sadly, less easily fixed. And man, I had nothing to wear. Another message from Robert pinged in. ‘Oh, and bring any props or whatever, depending on the look/brand you’re going for.’

Oh yeah, I’ll go for the Natalie Portman look, please. What do you mean, the look I’M GOING FOR?

THIS is what I look like and you’ll just have to make the best of it!

Props! Was he having a laugh? What is a writer prop? Pens? Books? Notebooks? Quill? Good Grief!

I ranted all that day in my mind. Tried to explain to the hastily booked hairdresser that I wanted my hair cut, but that it mustn’t look as if it had just been cut. Tried on tops which had languished at the bottom of the ironing basket for the best part of a decade, only to find the *!#*! things didn’t fit me anymore!

A little too manic, maybe…?

If this is how teenagers feel every day of their lives, they can keep it! I was still on edge in the car, visualising readers judging me by the picture at the back of a book – much as I did (and still do – any book written by someone in a frilly collar goes straight back onto the bookshop shelf). I felt sick.


I arrived. My kids disappeared upstairs to hang out with his, and I breathed deep, slurping a cuppa and trying not to look as if I was wound up. The ‘wound-up’ look/brand is definitely NOT the one I’m going for.

This is the most sane-looking one, so I guess it gets the job!

I needn’t have worried, of course! I sat on a stool and Robert’s gigantic camera machine-gunned its way through so many shots that amongst the many inevitable shockers, there were a few acceptable ones, and a small clutch of the type where I thought Fine then! Judge me by that.

No props, no brand, just a smile.

And that just has to be good enough. I have a head shot: I feel like a writer.



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