Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Getting There - a guide to agility

The process of getting published is like an agility class to see how super fit we
would-be novelists really are.

As you may or may not know, an agility course consists of hoops, tunnels, gates, seasaws and tyres that have to be jumped over or through.

Last week, despite being knee deep in rejections for the last novel, I wrote to yet another agent on my list. Without any hopes. I got an email back saying would I please send the first three chapters. A small jump.

I sent the chapters off, laughing a little at his name. Ian Drury. Is he any relation of the Ian of Blockheads fame, I wondered? Son, perhaps? Turned his back on the music business to enter the highly competitive world of publishing. (You can see another novel developing pronto.)

The seasaw tilted as I considered the possibilities, and then I forgot about Ian’s email. I knew what would happen. He would send back a polite “Thanks but No thanks” note. Or nothing at all.

This is the tunnel that in our agility class has a wet pool in the bottom because it’s rained so much.

I’m well used to no replies by now. Not that agents or editors are rude – she says hurriedly. They’re extremely busy. I’ve had jobs like that, when your Inbox is so bursting with emails you can’t think let alone reply to any but the most urgent.

Another long dark tunnel with a twist in. One collie loves the tunnel, but I don’t. But it has to be got through. It’s part of the course.

We had a writing meeting on Sunday and five of us sat round a table and discussed my latest rejection and where I might be going wrong. We came up with a plan for me to rewrite the first three chapters of this last novel. A jump over a succession of smaller jumps, then a leap through the tyre.

Rather than doing it straight away, like I usually do, I thought, no wait. Let this simmer. Think about it. So I sat on it, made myself wait. Run round the field a few times, looking at the competition. Or in Mollie’s case, the sheep in the next field.

Yesterday afternoon I checked my emails to find one from Ian asking me to send him the rest of the manuscript. This was my first proper Big Jump.

I jumped up, ran next door to tell Himself, and immediately rang my closest writing friend. She was out, so I ran round in circles squeaking, like a demented mouse, before sitting down and sending him the rest of the manuscript. Another jump for good measure. Several more for the hell of it.

I have no doubt that Ian will reply at some point – there’s a lot to read, so he won’t be in a hurry. He will explain why he doesn’t think it will sell and therefore why they don’t want it and wish me better luck elsewhere. But his comments might help. I might be able to rewrite it so that someone else might take it.

Or ……… but we won’t go there. That would be tempting fate. Realistically, a clear round is still a long way off. But I’m getting there.

So for all you other Novel Racers and writers out there. We’ll get there – one day. Just keep jumping.


Philipa said...

Good luck FP!

I think it was Ian Dury though, not drury. There's a park bench in London I think where you can plug your earphones in and listen to his music.

JJ said...

Oh my, Flowerpot. That's fantastic - great progress. I'm keeping everything crossed for you.

Flowerpot said...

Philipa - yes you're quite right! Though I can't see myself trekking up to London to plug myself in...!

jj - many thanks. I'm trying not to think about it at the moment - too scary!

Lane said...

That's great news fp. Keeping it all crossed here too!!


Flowerpot said...

lane - thanks very much!

Akelamalu said...

I have a good feeling about this one Flowerpot! Sending Reiki to the situation - it might help. xx

Miss Understood said...

That's fantastic news! I'm so pleased for you.

I was sending off a synopsis for a novel I wrote with a friend a couple of years ago. When an agent actually asked for three random chapters, I almost wet my pants! Unfortunately, nothing came of it, and now I really don't like the book that much. I love the story, but it needs a complete rewrite. Maybe one day!

I hope you are more successful than I was...I have my fingers and toes crossed for you. x

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Flowerpot that is just fantastic news! Keeping everything crossed he loves it!

Ellee Seymour said...

What fun it must be, I expect you have lots of patience. Yes, very good luck.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I can feel success around the corner. Sounds promising doesn't it. Fingers crossed for you.

I have written a further 1,500 words these last two days. I think I should have included myself on the NR first draft.

Crystal xx

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo that's so exciting!!! Even my eyelashes are crossed for you.

laurie said...

a lovely, right-on analogy, flowerpot. and such happy news!

very exciting.

BreadBox said...

Hang in there, FP, hang in there!

Flowerpot said...

AK - oh I do hope so! Thanks for the Reiki. I need it!

MissU - thanks for that. I really do think you should get writing - when you have time!

Flowerpot said...

aoj - well he liked the first 3 chaps - just HOPE he likes the rest. Or he tells me what he wants changed.

ellee - I dont know about fun - nerve racking! And I have absolutely no patience at all. But I'm learning. The trick is to carry on with ohter things and take your mind off it.

Flowerpot said...

Crystal - well done on the 1500 words = that's amazing. If you ask Liz Fenwick I'm sure she'll put you on the NR first draft.

Zinnia - crossed eyelashes - wow! Many thanks.

Flowerpot said...

laurie - glad you liked the analogy. I for got the A frame - I've gone over the top of that and now down the other side.....

Breadbox - thank you most kindly. I will!