Me, Cheryl, Music and Art

A fragile and flickering little flame has been lighting my dark for the best part of ten weeks now. Ever since a real live editor asked to see the full script of ‘Fighting the Tide’ I’ve dared to hope that this time it was really going to happen. FTT’s got pretty close before, considering it hasn’t been spread very widely, so I know it’s got something going for it. And, indeed, the email that popped up on Friday seemed to confirm this; ‘…polished writing…wonderful characters…a talent for dialogue…very real location’ etc, and then ‘not the right time to take this book on.’ What?

What seemed to have tipped the balance was the length of the book and one subplot too many ie the additions suggested by an agent to turn a simple love story into something ‘bigger and darker’! Well, that’s what I could tell myself but I suppose the truth is that I’m aiming at an already overcrowded market where being polished isn’t sufficient – you need an ‘X’ factor. And that’s exactly what Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole has because she’s reportedly landed a multi-million pound deal to write a series of chick-lit novel for Harper Collins. I could chuck my toys around and moan that it isn’t fair but which of us is going to sell the most books here? Who’s going to be the most valuable asset to their publisher? Ah, well, I shall keep doing what I love, which is writing, and hope that one day, my fragile, flickering little flame will burn brightly.

After the bad news on Friday I was forced to lift my head off the Pillow of Despondency because it was time to deliver the second half of a present to Tom; a trip to Theatr Mwldan to see Bellowhead. I can’t think of a simple way to describe Bellowhead; they fill the stage with musicians, they fill the theatre with a hugely enthusiatic audience (I did note a terrible outbreak of male pony-tails, hairy jumpers, flowing crushed velvet and ethnic earrings) and then they blast you with all kinds of amazing interpretations of folk songs. I know it sounds like Hell On A Stick but they are such terrific performers, it works! Again, as with the Poozies, I’d never play this music to myself, but live music, especially when it’s played with such gusto, is always worth experiencing.

When you can download any track you like at the click of a mouse it’s easy to get desensitized to the magic of music. Going out, being part of something unique, feeling the sheer unpredictability of a live performance is something you’ll always remember. At the end of November I went to see John Martyn; it was unsettling, uncomfortable but spliced with moments that were intensely moving. And when his death was announced last Thursday, I was so glad that I’d had the chance to see him again.

And finally…For those of you who make such lovely comments about Tom’s work, he’s started exhibiting online at alltradeart. If any of you feel inclined to have a look, do please vote for your favourite – it doesn’t cost anything and it would just be interesting to see what you think. Thank you.

The painting is 'July Sunset - Mwnt' by Tom Tomos


Mummy said…
Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear about the rejection. That stings right to the bone, and it even worse with the Cheryl Cole news.... why does everything have to revolve around money? It makes me sick sometimes.

I'm glad you've had such wonderful musical experiences recently, there really is nothing quite like live performance is there?

I will certainly head over to look at Tom's site :) Chin up x
Preseli Mags said…
Is the divine Cheryl actually going to write her books - or is it just her name they are paying for (like Jordan)? (Fuming here!)

It may be of small comfort but the praise you have received for FTT is fabulous. Just remember that even JK Rowling was once a complete unknown.

I have voted for Tom's pictures (you know how much I love them!) If I win the lottery on Saturday I'll buy High Preseli - Low Cloud, it is such a beautiful painting (and I have just the wall on which it should hang!)
Fennie said…
Chris, this is sad, but I do think you should be encouraged and simply send it off to another publisher. Maybe the publisher quite genuinely has too many title in your stable; like having too many kittens or frying pans at the moment. It does not necessarily mean the book doesn't have what it takes to sell. Even Jane Austen was rejected at first and Dickens, I believe. So just plug away, in the UK and abroad, till you get lucky.
Lane said…
That's such a great rejection Chris. They don't bandy praise like that around for nothing. I hope the manuscript is already winging its way to the next agent on your list.

As for Writer Cheryl, I shall snarl and hope the ghost writer is being paid handsomely.

Right, off to check out Tom's page and wish I was well off.
Milla said…
have bellowhead bellowing away in the background and love it!! will def look out for them, love all that jaunty feel-good stuff. Am spitting chips, babes (as CC would say) at the news of Chezzer as novelist. This world is bloody crazy. Why can't writers write the books and pretty Newcastrians stick to looking pretty. I suppose it all went wrong when everything became "product". Keep at it, Chris! Over to vote now.
Cait O'Connor said…
Doesn't it make you sick when these celebrities get these books published? It is all about money but I can tell you they don't get borrowed in libraries.= where readers are more discerning.
Don't give up, all the best writers get rejections.
I will go choose my favourite pic.
Pondside said…
Oh, the homework, Chris - I'll pop over and drool and vote, then find the music and have a listen. The wonders of the internet bringing all that to my house in the Island.
Re-wrap that manuscript and send it off again. Just think of all the money and accolades waiting for the discerning editor/publisher who buys it - and the gnashing of teeth from the one who wrote that note!
Debs said…
With such positive comments like that from the editor, it makes you wonder what you have to do to get published these days.

I'll definately go and have a look. I love his paintings and promise myself that one day (if I ever get any money) I shall definately buy myself one.
Flowerpot said…
Rejections are such hell - particularly when you get good ones like that. I presume you've got over the initial reaction but it still hurts like hell doesnt it? Big hugs - keep writing Chris. We will get there and look back on all this and grin! Take care.
The sofa of doom and now the pillow of despondency - love it! Bet Cheryl couldnt come up with such emphasis in four words or her ghost writer come to that.
Keep on sending FTT out the vol au vonts are in the freezer - dont want to have to make new ones do we?
Pipany said…
Hmm, I wondered if Cheryl would just be the cover name too. Keep at it Chris and resubmit to loads of the blighters. It WILL happen, I know it xx
bradan said…
OMG, didn't realise Cheryl was actually's just not fair is it?

I must say you sure have some interesting sounding musicians down your way!

Have voted for my favourite painting, but it was difficult to decide as love so many of them!
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
Yes, Chris, keep doing what you love - and keep submitting it, too. You're getting closer, please don't stop now.

Top Bloke and I saw Bellowhead at Celtic Connections in Glasgow last year (coincidentally, my birthday gift to him) and they were wonderful. I hope to see them again one day.
ChrisH said…
Hello all, have been rereading your lovely comments as I'm feeling very down in the dumps today - I'm having a bit of a 'quelle est le point?' moment.

Thnak you so much for voting for Tom's paintings... a vote of 40 for one painting gets him on the front of the site... and you can vote when you revisit...

I think Cheryl may be getting a 'little help' who will hopefully make a nice sum out of it too.
muddyboots said…
what a blow about the book, especially when celebs sign book deals, well pick yourself up and try again.........
LittleBrownDog said…
Oh, Chris - can just imagine how you feel. Especially as dear Cheryl probably isn't even taking the chance of sullying those perfect fingernails on a keyboard, but chatting distractedly to a ghost writer between make-ups sessions for X-Factor.

Bellowhead sounds wonderful. Can almost feel myself rummaging in the back of my wardrobe for a bit of crushed velvet just to enter into the spirit of it.

Will definitely look up Tom's paintings, which I think are wonderful. In the meantime, please send it off again - I bet it's really fab, and some editor somewhere is just going to snap it up when they realise how good it is. (In the meantime, can I put myself down for a signed copy of the first edition?)

Expat mum said…
I would echo that an interested editor is great news. It's far worse for them to simply day 'no'. The market is terrible at the moment, and many publishers aren't publishing ANYTHING, as well as laying off a lot of people. You probably need another opinion, since you have two very different ones vis a vis the sub-plots.
Be encouraged! Well done.
Edward said…
Cheyl Cole, Jordan, Naomi Campbell - where would the world of belles lettres be without their contributions?

Thanks for the bellowhead link, by the way. I'd heard of them, but never heard them. They're now second on my list of people to see ASAP (after Valentina Lisitsa, who provides a rather more decorous show!)
ChrisH said…
Sorry, I have been a tad tardy in catching up.
Muddyboots, thanks - consider it done!
LBD, yes, I was very out of place with no crushed velvet! You are too kind, dear heart.
Expatmum, it does seem to be particularly tough out there. Thanks for your comment - I have been dithering a bit about two such conflicting views.
Edward, yep, well worth the (cheap)ticket price, I'd see them again.

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