Innocence abroad: you can’t publish an omelette without breaking a few probabilities


A few years ago when I was 16, I went to Corfu with four friends, two guys and two girls.

Our parents let us book the trip ourselves and we found a villa advertised in the window of the newsagent near where we all lived.

Naturally it proved to be miles from the beach and we had to hitch to the sea every day, usually with the watermelon traders, who let us sit on their wares in the back of their truck in the boiling sun.

We had beer for breakfast and continued through the day with Ouzo and Metaxa brandy. We could do what we wanted for almost the first time ever and we did.

One day, I can’t remember why, we decided to go for a walk in the early evening. We wandered out of the small village where we were staying and up the hill through olive trees and dusty scrubland, passing only black clad women and toothless old men who we recognised from films about peasant life in southern Europe.

Just as the road petered into a track, lo and behold, a tiny rustic restaurant. There was no sign or anything, just a rough and ready wooden table in the shade of a vanishingly tall cedar.

We sat down and soon enough the family that ran the place appeared. We could see they were surprised to see us. We were surely the first tourists ever to sit on their benches.

They didn’t speak any English, and our Greek was restricted to ‘good evening’ and ‘good morning’.  Somehow, though, we managed to explain that we wanted to eat and drink and so they brought food and wine.

Not that they produced a menu. They seemed to have just the one dish on that day: omelette.

How charming, we thought. How authentically Greek, or island, or Corfu, or something. How clever we were to have found the place.

The eggs were delicious and the wine was dusty (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever tried Domestika or Retzina).

It was incredibly cheap too, about a a tenth of what we had been paying in the bar across the road from our holiday home.

I think this is the only way I can be a writer. If a table is for eating at, then why can’t it be a restaurant if that’s what I need?

There are so many of us who want to write and publish. The sheer volume of the competition is frightening and that’s before I’ve even thought about the incredible talent that it’s so easy to find in cyber space or even in actual books which are being spat out more quickly than they can possibly be absorbed, let alone savoured.

So if it’s possible to publish a book,  then I’ll just assume that that’s what I’ll do. I’ll simply close my eyes to the telltale signs that it is next to impossible to get a deal, even if I do produce a novel to try and sell.

It’s about as likely as finding a restaurant at the top of a hill, a mile outside a tiny village, on a road to nowhere.

The eggs were delicious.

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Posted in Writing
9 comments on “Innocence abroad: you can’t publish an omelette without breaking a few probabilities
  1. zencherry says:

    You shut your eyes and fly darlin’. You’ve the talent sure enough.

  2. It’s a great analogy! I speak as someone who is lucky enough to have stumbled upon the restaurant, and is now sitting, sweating from the walk up the treacherous mountain, waiting for the omelette to arrive. I’ve no idea what it’s going to taste like, but it smells pretty good, and will certainly fill the hole in my tummy. I’ve been waiting for a meal for years! The odds are indeed scary, but with dedication, I’m certain you will achieve your dream – an omelette, a glass of dusty Retsina, and a touch of Greek sunshine in which to enjoy it. I was once given the following advice: it takes a lot of hard work, some talent and a bit of luck. You have the talent. Go for it…

  3. The words flow smooth and calm even when forming intricate relations. I really love your writing, Cathy. I get a sense of you, your particular voice, and tone — humorous, wistful, wise, playful, descriptive — and always like to read your work… best for a great thursday!

  4. I am going to have to buy new underwear. My cups runneth over. Thanks to all three of you for your kind and interesting comments. Now I must fly to M&S. Cathy xxx

  5. I like my eggs scrambled. I have no idea how that fits in your analogy.

    Anyway, I’ve spent years trying to get published, then gave up and self-published on Kindle. I may not be setting the literary world on fire but it frees up my need to be ‘published’ and I can concentrate on writing the next one. Or writing about muff. Something you’ve considered? The self publishing, I mean, not my muff.

    But, y’know. Keep at it. It’s about hard work and luck. You’re doing the hard work, so I wish you lots of luck. Innit. X

  6. Emily says:

    “There are so many of us who want to write and publish” True – but also so many people waiting to read your book. I can’t wait xx

  7. You’re all so kind. What a great way to start 2012, for me, anyway. Thanks again everyone. Cathy x

  8. Rebecca Fyfe says:

    You’ve written a beautiful and apt analogy, and I know you have the talent to make the unlikely become likely again. 🙂

  9. What a lovely post. The writing was beautiful and the story endearing and I read every word. Follow the rainbow and you just might find a pot of gold at the end 😉

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