On this week’s show I was very fortunate to interview author Andy Rumbold about his debut novel ‘The Last Fiesta’ which has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. Andy also shares his thoughts and tips about writing, his writing influences and rituals and much more. There is also my round up of happy and unusual news from around the world and some cracking music to go with it. Simply hit the play button below and please add your thoughts, comments and any happy news that you want to share.
Today I e-mailed my first book to my second squad of agents. I use the term squad because I can’t help but feel like I am playing Fantasy Football when selecting agents. I actually used the phrase ‘Oh yeah, they didn’t make the cut the last time.’ I have a little scoring system too; like when you can’t pick a midfielder (for my North American friends, when you can’t decide between quarterbacks) and think well a: got a combined score of 3 but b: got 4, so they get in the team.
I was a lot calmer this time. The first time I sent my book to agents, I was so nervous that I could not physically type. I had to ask Gauri to send the e-mails for me. I simply sat there next to her shaking with nerves and gibbering incoherently. I am so lucky she still likes me. A neurotic writer trying to get his first book picked up by an agent cannot be a great proposition to live with.
It was easier this time. I think it becomes more a process, like filling in data on a computer screen. I forget what I am actually doing and just get the job done. I am not sure this is a good thing. Then again, it is all part of the process and I am learning this as I go along.
I find it odd to pick agencies and agents. I really try and think ‘Who will work for me?’ Then, I also think that my gut is telling me this, but my head is telling me that. It is like going on a date and you don’t know the person, but you are sure that you have to make the relationship work. They could be awful in the long run, but you really need them to be with you now. They are the one’s that can give birth to your little baby book, and unless you do the artificial insemination version of getting published and self-publish, you need them. Damn, that’s a frustrating idea.
But then, they need us too right? With no books, agents do not have a lot to do. So, why is the situation so skewed in their favour? They can ask for exclusive reading periods, they can take months to respond or they might never respond. Would we take this treatment in real life? Ok, so I know we need agents as writers, but maybe, just maybe, we deserve to respect ourselves a little? I saw one agency asking for six weeks exclusive reading time. Who has six weeks to spare when not even another agent is looking at your book to wait for a 99% rejection rate?
By the way. I am really not against agents. I want one. It is a dream of mine that completes my becoming an author fantasy. I want to have early morning meetings with coffee and croissants to discuss with my agent revisions, my next book, publicity tours etc. I just feel bummed out that I feel so deficient in their eyes. I have to do so much to gain their approval and they still might never even acknowledge me. I so want this relationship, but they might be ‘I am happy being single right now.’
So, I guess, I will just keep sending out my work in the hope that I catch an agent’s eye and they concede to coming on a date with me. I then hope to say the right thing, make witty comments and pick up the tab. Ok, I have completely lost where I was going with this analogy. This is the last time I blog on acid. Joke. I am just really drunk. Joke. I am merely squiffy… No, I am actually very squiffy.
Worst segue to an ending ever. (Seriously, I am laughing at how bad this is, but I can’t think of a better way).
Take care buddies,
Something happened last night that has made think about the way I define myself as a writer. As you can see from the blog title, I consider myself an aspiring author. I may not consider myself an author yet, but maybe I should consider myself a writer?
To put this into context, I need to explain that I grew up in England at a time when showing off was not something that was approved of. I do not why this was, but it has left its mark on me. I have a deep seated dislike of showing off. I do not have a problem with others doing it. If anything, I envy them. It occurs to me that I really need to think about it as publicizing myself rather than showing off. Oh, and to the people who knew me when I was the younger, brasher, version of me, I no longer have the confidence I once had, or the need to show off has left me as I have matured.
Even as I am thinking what I am about to write, I feel uneasy. I know I am going to mention a few things that I have done recently as a means to point out my own fear of admitting success, yet within this, I am unhappy that I am going to have to come too close to my concept of showing off. Then again, perhaps it is this very concept that I need to change? We may well find out by the end of this post.
I was on LinkedIn and I saw a post that asked about the application process for Fringe Theatre Festivals. I had a rare moment of feeling ‘Hey, I know about that. I can answer those questions.’ So I did answer those questions. In the process I mentioned that I ended up writing a play called ‘The Poe Show’ http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/the-poe-show/ after I posted on Facebook that I fancied writing a play.
Another person (a professor no less) commented later on and asked ‘You did what??? Did you really write a play after posting on Facebook?’
It took me a moment or two to figure out that she was impressed. She asked if I minded if she shared it with her students as they would find it a hoot. I am naturally assuming they will find it a hoot in the positive sense.
Interlude – I am sorry. I am going to stop for a moment and give myself a damn good talking to. I can’t even accept that the students will be positive about this. Back in a sec.
Back. Ok. I am going to write this next bit with gritted teeth. (Drat. If this were a letter, I could make a gag about putting ground teeth into the ink, but such is life in the modern age of technology).
I created an opportunity out of nothing that led to writing a play. I wrote that play in two weeks. The play went on to win a Best of Fest award. I have since been asked to write two more plays as a result of this. A professor thinks this is worth sharing with her students. These are the facts. So why do I feel so uncomfortable acknowledging my successes?
I simply do not know. I do know that I am getting increasingly annoyed with myself for not acknowledging them. So, I am resolved to acknowledge them. I have a feeling like taking bad tasting medicine. I am not going to like it right now, but in the long term, it will be good for me.
Part of me feels that I cannot call myself a fully fledged author until I get a book published. I mean no disrespect to anyone who has written plays and had them produced. You have every right to consider yourself a writer, but hey, this is my blog, so it comes with my issues and insecurities.
Wait. Ah goddammit. I just realised I am being an idiot. It is the difference between my concept of being an author and being a writer that is the problem. I do not see myself as an author, but that doesn’t mean I should ignore any success I have with my writing. Ah, a revelation. That felt good. I can call myself a writer and not feel (too) bad about it. (Hey, it is all part of the process right? I can’t it 100% right straight off the bat).
Well, that was an abrupt ending.
I do feel better though. I hope this post can make someone else feel better too.
Take care buddies,