Writing, Waiting & Wondering

This blog will be reporting me for neglect before too long but I assure you I’ve not flown off on my broomstick to pastures new and green.

witch

However, I do feel like I’m in limbo land at the moment. After the build up to launching  The Siren and Other Strange Tales;  – all the editing, formatting, checking and double checking – once it was over I felt rather flat and a bit lost.

feeling flat

Then the reality of marketing and promoting set in. There were sites where I needed to upload/update the book’s details; social media to manage, guest blogs to write. I understand that I need a fan base, a platform from which to launch my wares but I struggle to find creative, diverse and subtle ways of saying ‘just buy the bloody book will ya?’

Somehow through it all this Blog got put to one side.

Following on from The Siren’s launch I drafted a plan for loosing my first novel ‘The Weave’  into the world. I had approached a few agents, more in hope than expectation, all of whom said thanks but no thanks. Then I had one more try and the synopsis and first three chapters duly landed on the agent’s desk. I forgot about it until I got an email asking to see the whole mss. I sat looking at the email, my mouth so far agape I began to drool on the keyboard. Now this might not seem like much but for me who has never had a foot over the threshold of trad. publishing, it seemed like a huge step forward.

But then the spanner hit the works. Do I go ahead with my own publishing plan anyway? Do I commission the cover? Do I send review copies out? What if (wild imagining here) the agent wants to represent me, everything will change, won’t it? And at that point, just as my ancient PC does when I give it too much to consider and organise, I froze; hung up; went into stasis and will not unfreeze I suspect until I have a reply from the agent.

In an effort to  break loose I began book number 2 set in the 13th century. I got about a quarter way through the first draft and then lost the plot…literally. I am back to my old nemesis – I know what the beginning and the ending are going to be like but what happens in between…??? I may have mentioned it in earlier posts I have a disc full of novel sandwiches without their filling. I am determined that this one will not join them and have decided to take a break from it for a wee while. Instead I am researching and pitching some magazine articles just for a change of scene.

So there’s a quick update for those of you wondering whether I’m away travelling on my time machine. I would say watch this space but I won’t because it may only be a blank screen.

Oh and did I mention that I’ve quit smoking, the cartilage in my right knee has gone awol  so I need a new knee and I’ve acquired a gorgeous seven-month old Alsatian/Husky dog called Petra?

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Nostalgia Smells Musty

I’m about to hit the finishing stages of Phase II house renovations. The builders have left, snagging completed and I am now the proud owner of acres of newly plastered walls, ceilings and panelling. All of which has to be decorated by my own fair hand.

In preparation I started to clear and tidy the boxroom where I will store all the decorating materials. This is quite literally a box room – packed full of…yep, you’ve got it…boxes. Stuff that when I moved 18 months ago I’ve never unpacked. It’s a slow process because being a go-with-the-flow type of gal (i.e. lazy besom), I never actually labelled the boxes. So, it was inevitable that I got delayed in my clearing task by poking around in the contents of each box.

I came across a rather tatty box file and inside were yellowing pages of typescript. Each set of pages was neatly pinned together with one of those gold-coloured paper fasteners. The paper curled up at the corners and had a musty-mousy odour; the typescript was faint and peppered with handwritten corrections. Clearly I was a hunt-and-peck typist in those days for these were my first literary outpourings from 30-odd years ago when I decided I would write for a living.

Ah yes, I remember it well – the summer of 1976; drought and a heatwave in the UK, of a type never seen since. I was taking a year off work to establish myself as a writer thanks to the indulgence (and not a little condescension)from my now ex-husband. Every morning I sat at the kitchen table banging out stories and articles on my little blue Olivetti.

Rejection after rejection followed yet never daunted me – the optimism of youth! I got hold of an old copy of the Writers and Artists Year book and I’m sure I must have approached every literary agent in the listings, sending them shovel-loads of my work. Of course it was all returned with stiff little notes – now stashed at the bottom of the box. I picked up one from an agent who was obviously frustrated and irritated with me, for her note, scrawled on a compliments slip read “where do you expect me to sell this material? There is no market for it.”

Last night I read some of the stuff I’d written. Most of it was horrible; short stories trying but failing ingloriously to be some sort of hybrid Somerset Maugham and Guy de Maupassant – both of whom I still rate as short story writers. Quite clearly I hadn’t found my own “voice” and from the tenor of many of the rejection notes the literary world hoped I never would.

Nevertheless I have a fondness for the person who wrote this stuff – the person I was then. I wouldn’t choose to go back in time and become her all over again. My wrinkles have been hard earned and I don’t care for repeats. Do I wish I knew then what I know now? Nope – the joy of life is in playing the game as it is served – aces, mis-hits, net cords and all.

So what to do with this file of youthful indiscretions? Keep it? Stash it away again? Put it out for recycling?

Haven’t decided yet, but I’m having a bonfire at the weekend. Perhaps it’ll be the Bonfire of the Vanities?