As I step up the pace of publicising book five (Twenty Twelve), prior to its fast approaching release date, I end up answering the same questions again and again.
Actually, that's not as bad as it sounds.
At least that way I know that a. this is something people might feasibly be interested to hear about (unlike the time I somehow got into a discussion on the radio about making chutney. Especially tortuous as I have never attempted making any type of preserve and was thus unable to offer any practical advice on the perfect chilli jam or indeed even able to offer a 'hilarious' anecdote about a failure) and b. I've had enough practice to make my sound bites short and hopefully sweet. Or at least not coma-inducing a la chutney-chat.
Anyhow, this week I was asked something that hasn't come up before; am I ambitious?
Now there's a loaded question if ever there was one.
The simple answer of course is yes. Abso-bloody-lutely. In fact, I make Lady Macbeth look directionless.
But I couldn't say that. Somehow here in the UK at least, ambition is seen as A Bad Thing. It's become all mixed up with ruthlessness and kids on The Apprentice trampling over one another in an attempt to work for Alan I'm-not-really-in-business-anymore Sugar.
If you admit to being ambitious you need a bit of space and time to explain. Which I have here, so I will.
To me, ambition is a goal. And that goal is way outside the comfort zone. It's a goal that to achieve, you're going to need to stretch yourself like elastic. It's going to be hard. It might even hurt.
For a writer this might mean setting yourself the goal of being read by as many readers as possible, forcing you to do publicity you might not be comfortable with or at the very least using up time you can ill afford.
It might mean setting yourself the goal of writing something totally out of register. A different structure, a different medium or a different voice.
It might even mean allowing someone else to read your work for the first time. Which I remember as being one of the scariest things I'd ever done - and I've given birth to twins!
See, being a writer takes a lot of chutzpah. Only the strongest and most ambitious survive.
So move over, sharp elbowed author coming through...