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.