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Posts tagged ‘manuscript’


Last week I finished the first draft of About Time.

The pressure had been mounting for weeks.

At this point, it is worth bearing in mind that, everything being relative, our lives are comparatively stress-free. Right up there at the top of the Stress Scale is what to eat for breakfast, followed closely by when/where to go biking and whether I will get a flat tyre.

So I was totally unequipped for the extremes of anxiety leading up to The Deadline.

You will be glad to hear I epitomised grace under pressure. I was serene, confident and overflowing with gruntledness.

Regrettably – particularly for Husband – this physically manifested in an unpleasant shrillness of voice.

I am now waiting to hear back from my agent. Some might suggest that Peter does not pull his punches; others that he fights dirty.

I could not comment personally, since he might sue me for slander.

Also, see above.

I am, however, looking forward to his perspective (unfortunately, I misplaced mine). He will no doubt ask me to rewrite vast tracts of About Time – I’m guessing the last third, where I literally lost the plot – and it will be a better book for it.

I decided to take a week off and enjoy not having to write anything more creative than a shopping list. (Note: normally these are models of creativity with footnotes, appendices and surprising application of nouns. However, at the moment my shopping list consists of nothing more imaginative than mushrooms, ginger ale and scouring pads).

I am only just starting to feel half normal again.

Everything being relative.

Qualified author

I have just been offered a publishing contract! Yippee! Apologies in advance for the number of exclamation points in this post – I’m not proud of it! Little Black Dress Books have offered me a one, two or three book publishing deal!

This afternoon, Husband and I went into Borders at Sylvia Park to check out Little Black Dress publications in the romance section. Husband demonstrated an uncanny ability for opening books at the paragraphs detailing hot shafts and throbbing rods. He did a rather unheroically unmanly amount of giggling.

When I thought about Smart/Casual fighting for space on these shelves I got quite squeaky and overexcited. With any luck the cover won’t feature martini glasses, fluffy mules, poodles in raincoats or female apparel.


Extra rations of crucifixes

En-route to Ireland, I met up with My Agent in London. He is a dear fellow who would most fittingly have been attired in a deerstalker and inflammable cape, but maybe he didn’t want to overwhelm me.


He took me to lunch in Piccadilly. I was nervous and talked too much.


“You’d better make me MONEY,” he muttered darkly.


“Well, that is the general idea,” I said. “And if you sell Smart/Casual for a seven figure sum and optional movie rights, I probably will. What are you sitting around for?”


But first, there was the matter of the overhaul. When he offered to represent me, My Agent wrote a specifically vague email about the first third of Smart/Casual: how it was choppy and erratic with too much Bridget Jones-style teetering around in high heels and under-developed characters engaged in a flailing plot with not enough darkness.


“And the first CHAPTER, darling,” he said. “It’s too FARCICAL. And not INTERESTING enough. I mean, your heroine falls OVER in a SHOP. Now, my DAUGHTER – she’s just done a charity ABSEIL. You know, darling- down the side of a BUILDING. Now, I was THINKING- maybe- maybe your heroine could do something like that- you know, a charity ABSEIL- and she could maybe- she falls on top of a MAN- and he- he- topples over! And you know, he- he- gets a bit ANGRY and he- he waves his arms around and maybe HITS her! With a stuffed fish! How about tuna?”


“Interesting idea,” I said, shredding my napkin all over the table. “Really not farcical in the slightest at all. Funny I hadn’t considered that already.”


“What people don’t understand about we WRITERS,” said My Agent, finishing off my glass of wine, “is that writers must – we simply MUST – create. We are COMPELLED to write. Darling.”


As far as I’m concerned the only thing I MUST create is noxious quantities of carbon dioxide – and it’s less a compulsion than a regrettable side-effect.


I repaired to Ireland with a signed contract and lethal build-up of carbon dioxide. After pausing to greet The Wrinklies and kiss my mother, I barricaded myself in The Resource Room with my laptop, notepad and a blanket, which is where I spent the month of August refining my skill for profound swearing and gusty spells of weeping.


By the time I finished, I could no longer recognise arrangements of letters. In fact, I didn’t technically finish; one day I stared at the word ‘and’ for five minutes trying to ascertain how to apply it to any given sentence, and realised I could no longer write.


I gave the manuscript to my mother to read through for seplling mistakes and dodgy grammar: “Mum, I don’t want to <expletive deleted> know my <expletive deleted> hero’s a <expletive deleted> pansy-arse with a weak character arc! It’s a bit <expletive deleted> late to be telling me that now, all right? Hold it- sorry to interrupt- wait- wait- I feel some emoting coming on. Waaaaaah!”)


Evidently, I was a joyful addition to the household. My father fortified himself with extra rations of crucifixes and exorcised me a couple of times, to no measurable effect. Mum provided a steady supply of coffee and monitored my hunger levels.


At the end of August I sent the amended manuscript to My Agent, complete without charity abseil; I just couldn’t get it off the ground. I told him I would be travelling for a month with sporadic access to email, so regrettably any further editing would have to wait until October.


I tried to prepare myself for My Agent’s demanding multiple rewrites before declaring he preferred the original version. Thankfully, about a week later, he responded saying he would start submitting Smart/Casual to publishers. He also mentioned that one of his contractors, an independent bookseller, reviewed the manuscript and thought it would do well. But really, it’s all just words and not worth the paper it’s not written on until a publisher tries to screw you out of royalties you haven’t even earned yet

My Agent

I’m so excited about going to Ireland at the end of this month, I got around to booking flights last week. We’re both looking forward to the break – Husband will join me for a couple of months mid-August. That’s if his passport turns up – oh, don’t even get me STARTED.


One date is fixed: I need to be in London on 1/8 to meet My Agent. Sorry, did I forget to mention? After submitting the full manuscript on request, My Agent said he would love to represent me because My Agent thinks Smart/Casual is very funny. My Agent said he’d take me for lunch in Piccadilly. My Agent said not to get too excited, because My Agent cannot guarantee publication, so I’ll just leave it at: Woohoo! Waaah!


But seriously though – oh, hold it, I feel another woohoo coming on. WOOHOO! WOOHOO! Sorry, I didn’t realise there were two. You’re right: that was over the top.


Mixed with the excitement is a not insubstantial amount of pure terror. Before submitting, I was aware that Smart/Casual had a number of flaws: choppiness in the first third of the book mainly deriving from not having half a clue what I was at when I first started it; one-dimensional characters; not enough variation in tone; charges of OTT humour from my tendency to take a joke too far and then turn around and bring it all the way back again.


Instead of offering me a squillion-figure publishing deal, My Agent asked me to address these problems before sending it off to publishing houses.


I had always assumed interest from an industry insider would give my self-confidence a great licking, but the effect has been the opposite. (Although if you figure out what the opposite of a great licking is, I would be grateful if you could let me know, thanks.) For about four days I was all over the place, before I levelled out in a flat spin. I still indulge in a lot of quivering and the occasional histrionic. These tend to be all-singing, breakdancing, booty shaking spectaculars, so I save them for when Andrew is around.


For a while I considered simply deleting the first third of Smart/Casual – it was a close thing. I spent the last couple of weeks renovating it in between full-scale panic attacks.


I know there is no guarantee of a publisher agreeing to take on Smart/Casual, but someone in the industry believes in it enough to put it out there and I am just so proud of my book!

Starving writer

Finally it is crunch time: time to find an agent to represent ‘Smart/Casual’.


Recently, my muse went on a drugs and alcohol fuelled bender. Eh, it’s been threatening for a while, the addled old lush. When I tracked her down, I reluctantly admitted her to rehab. Since then she has been out on day release once.


While my poor muse dried out, I revised and edited Smart/Casual. I discovered there is little I hate more than editing my own work. It makes my head tingle – and not in a good way.


The positive aspect to the editorial process is that it gave me confidence in my writing. I may not be able to fashion a finely honed point but my sentences often make sense, my grammar is fundamentally sound, and you would be hard pressed not to admit that my spelling is phenomenal.


At the same time, the editorial process highlighted how little I know about plot, structure, narrative, character development and characterisation, tension, point of view, pace . . . the list goes on. In short: being able to write is just the tip of the iceberg – or the spore of the mushroom (dodging cliché being another necessary skill).


A few weeks ago I joined an online writers’ group, which has been a marvellous source of technical advice, encouragement and discouragement in equal measure. It is interesting to see how my sense of humour polarises people: for every member that loves this line, someone else hates it.


The community members helped me put together the submission proposal for Smart/Casual; it is good. It is ready.


I am terrified

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