Is This 'The End'?


Alternative title, ‘Round The U-bend’, Home Thoughts from a would-be plumber with a serious writing habit.

Nearly ten months ago I received the email that CHANGED MY LIFE! Oh, sorry, I was missing Masterchef for a minute there. Anyway, this email was from the agent who only a few days earlier had rejected the first draft of ‘Fighting The Tide’. Having reconsidered, the agent generously gave me copious advice about how I might turn FTT into a book with shelf life longer than a loaf of bread before supermarkets stuffed loaves full of preservatives.

My initial thought was that I could polish off the amendments within three months – despite the fact that the agent herself had advised me that the process ‘would be a big job’ (moral: ‘listen to Beeny’ – see ‘Proceed With Care’ posted 20/09/07).
So September became December, January became February and here we are at the end of April and at long, long last I have finished a book that only took me seven months to write (give or take the two year gestation period before I treated writing seriously) in the first place!

Or have I? Well, there’s a wait whilst FTT rests, I was going to say like a turkey but maybe that’s not such a great analogy but you get the picture. Then I look at it afresh and carve it up if necessary and then, when I’m certain it’s looking its best, I’ll send it off to the agent. Oh, and did I mention there are no guarantees, no contract, no publishing deals, just the hope that what I’ve written is good/timely enough – because I believe that timing not luck plays a role – to hit the spot?

The thing about it is, like buying a house really, there’s always another book. Whatever happens I’ll continue writing because that’s what I’ve always done and it’s all I ever really want to do. Long, antisocial hours, your other half wondering aloud if you’ve heard a word they’ve said (alas, probably not), sometimes, often actually, resenting ordinary life because it gets in the way. It’s not normal, is it? But it’s what I love.

Still, just in case, it’s always sensible to think about alternative careers. There’s a Romantic Novelists’ joke, a response, if you like, especially from those gifted writers who make category romance look effortless and easy, to all those people who on hearing what you do, inform you that they too are going to write a book when they have some ‘spare time’. The writer then replies, ‘Well, good for you! I’m going to be a brain surgeon when I’ve got some spare time.’

I probably won’t make a brain surgeon – even with zoology as one of my A levels especially when I tell you that the water fleas in my practical went to Hell – or at least up my pipette – and back because my hands were shaking so much. So I’ve had another think about what I’m good for. A couple of days ago a man turned up to look at the drains which had mysteriously blocked across the street – there are three new house opposite and four new babies. Not that I’m making any connections, by the way, but neither, apparently, were the drains.

Now the little man stood there picking his nose, scratching his bum, staring at a deep dark void and sharing the contents of his radio with the rest of us all day long – and getting paid for it! So it strikes me that I have the transferable skills to do just that – except, of course, I wouldn’t be so rude as to inflict my music on everyone (btw, Nick Cave, that wasn’t your best performance on Jonathan Ross, was it?). I wouldn’t like fishing for dirty nappies but there are aspects of writing, like being rejected, which make me feel weak and pale too.

Well, perhaps I won’t do anything about my other life as a plumber just yet; for now I’m letting go of the characters from FTT, which, crazy as it sounds, is always a sad time for me. Then it’s time to recharge my creative batteries… and get on with the next book.

Comments

Elizabethd said…
Chris, dont make the move just yet. I'm sure that plumbing is a much , um, respected job, but think you can, as my old headmistress would say..'do much better'.
mountainear said…
Well done on finishing the amendments to FTT. I wouldn't dare revisit - I'd start tweeking and then one tweek would lead to another.....it would have to be stuffed into the big envelope and straight into the post.

Don't make the career change yet!
Lane said…
Well done Chris. You made it!!
I think, like your book, you need a little rest too, but don't go unblocking any drains and getting mucky. Once FTT has gone out into the world, you may be shaking some important hands. Not may ..WILL:-)
Milla said…
that was a fantastic post, Chris, and very many congrats on the re-write, am so pleased for you (but has it really been TEN MONTHS! Blimey, I'd thought it was Septemberish)
Edward said…
Don't talk to me about plumbers. The last one we had was called to put right something he should have done in the first place, whereupon he swore at Milla in front of the children (which he now denies) and is pursuing us for £30. Rant over. Good blog, thanks for visiting me, and best of luck with the revisiting.
liz fenwick said…
i am so proud of you. I know what a long slog revision can be - especially when there is no guarentee at the end. So a huge hug and pat on the back from me.

Enjoy a glass of something special and that a little time off before you wisk your baby into someone else's hand!

Well done!
elizabethm said…
I am so impressed by your resolution and just sheer stickability. You are a real star. congratulations on getting to the end. I had no idea it was so long. Don't start retraining just yet. I am sure you deserve a holiday and I bet you dont need to do anything smelly.
KittyB said…
Well done! Clever, clever and full of patience and determination. I am so pleased for you. Now you need a break. The best of luck, and don't even think of a different career. you're far too good at the one you've already got! xx
CAMILLA said…
Hi Chris,
Well done on finishing amendments, best of luck to you.

Seriously though, you need to stay as Author, dont go into Plumbing just yet.... It must be such a wonderful feeling to have a book published.

Camilla.xx
Flowerpot said…
Great stuff Chris - well done! What an achievement. I know just what you're going through so hope you cracked open a bottle or two...
Preseli Mags said…
Woo hoo! Well done on finishing the re-write of FTT. Enjoy the rest, but I'm not sure about the plumbing, though. Does this mean we can go for another coffee now? xx Mags.
DevonLife said…
I've always fancied being a plumber. Getting to go into people's houses and be nosy. And they'd be soo pleased to see you, and give you tea. Must be like being a midwife.
Debs said…
Oh well done you. I agree that you should celebrate your achievement and have a drink of something bubbly and cool.

Or as we're told each year when my company announce their profits, give yourself a pat on the back.
LittleBrownDog said…
So very, very well done in getting this far with FTT. Writing a book is much harder than most people think - a sight more difficult than plumbing I should imagine, although I don't think I could do either. (Mind you, if you do decide to do a bit of plumbing in your spare time we've got a bit of a leak in our bathroom overflow. Milk and two sugars?)

xx
Oh berludy well done you - must be a huge relief and a massive achievement. As for the plumber well as you current Headmistress . . .stick to the writing I won't have my gels scratching their bums AND I bet his vest was untucked . . .sigh.
Pipany said…
Chris, I have said it before and it still stands; how on earth do you manage to rewrite something you have already finished? I just don't get it. After all that slogging you then have to pick it apart and make it different while keeping it sort of the same - you deserve a medal in my book missus (no pun intended)!!! xx
Fennie said…
I have only ever written one book - and was advised to turn it into a novel. Eventually I turned it into two magazine articles. Enough is enough. You have much more persistence. Congrats at finishing FTT, Good Luck! Fingers Crossed.
Writers, have to write as the late Frankie Howerd was shown the other day saying on television the same as doctors have to doct and dentists have to dent. So keep on scribbling.
Sally's Chateau said…
Well done Chris, the sense of achievement must feel terrific, NEXT book ? heavens woman take a few days off.
Hannah Velten said…
Big congrats, Chris. Fingers and toes crossed for you when it's sent into the big, bad world. Now, have you got the next idea yet? Mootia x
Expatmum said…
No, don't give up and start plumbing! My agent says sometimes she even sends her writers' books to the same company after all the editors have moved around, as they seem to do on a yearly basis. Sometimes your stuff is just not what they're looking for at that time, but in a year it might be just up their street. Other times, they might have just have committed to something in the same genre. If anyone is interested enough to give you advice on a rewrite or where else to send it, it means it's good. They tend to be fairly blunt if you've written rubbish. Good luck.
Well done Chris-YOU DID IT!!

Now take a rest for a while and get on with the next one...

Fingers crossed for much success to you
xx
Tattie Weasle said…
First things first - well done! I can't even blog straight or coherently so actually writing a book and editing/rewriting it is truly amazing. Will cross fingers that somewehre and sometime (preferably sooner rather than later) your timing will be perfect!

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