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.