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.
Dear blog. I am sorry for neglecting you. No, no, honestly, I was thinking about you the whole time I was doing the radio show. No, you haven’t gained weight. It isn’t that I would rather spend time on radio plays than writing my blog. I just got busy is all.
Sorry about that. I was getting the cold shoulder from my blog for neglecting it, so I thought I had best explain. Life has been interesting of late. Since the start of the year, I have lucky enough to have several opportunities presented to me. I say opportunities because they will take a lot of hard work to make anything of, but I do gladly thank the universe for at least giving me a chance to have a go and see what I can do.
First off, the radio show is a lot of fun. There is a beauty to being on a small community radio station with no experience as it has forced me to learn new things. I think my brain has missed that challenge of learning. Doing the radio show has indirectly taught me about a ton of things that seem to fit together like a succession of jigsaw pieces that initially do not appear to connect, or even be part of the same puzzle, but when viewed from afar, make up a new interconnected jigsaw of all the things I needed to know before I knew I needed to know them.
I think an example is deserved to make sense of that last sentence. So, I was learning how to go about doing my first recorded interview for the show. I spoke with a member of staff from Combat Stress and afterwards, I needed to edit out my awkward pauses, strange combination of words, overuse of the words ‘excellent, fantastic and ok’ and the bizarre and sudden desire for my voice to rehash it’s ‘going through puberty’ vocal range. In my defense, it was my first interview and I was terrified I would fail to record it, or delete it when editing or save it to the wrong type of audio file. To give a indicator of my level of ineptitude, it came to me as a surprise that there were different types of audio files.
Aside – If you are going to try your hand at editing audio, try out Audacity. It is excellent and free!
So, once I had figured how to use the software and the interview was fit to air, I thought no more about Audacity and editing audio for a few days. Then, it was suggested that I might like to write and produce a radio play for the station. Hold on a second I thought. I know how to edit audio now, so can I use my new found knowledge to make a radio play? After a bit of research and experimentation, it seems that I can. In theory anyway, it might turn out differently in practise.
I do find it interesting that sometimes things just fit together. I hadn’t thought of doing a radio play for ages and then I knew how to potentially make one before I knew I was going to make one. The knowledge was already there ready for use. Spooky!
The other thing I have been doing is researching how to turn a book into an ebook. I followed an excellent string of posts on http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2015/02/09/formatting-your-own-ebook-q-a-with-david-cronin/ and learnt a lot. It seems a bit daunting at first but if you take in each part and then digest, it makes sense as a whole at the end. I followed the advice and used the Calibre ebook manager to see what my book would look like as an ebook. It was mostly good. That is the thing about DIY, it can take a few attempts before the door stops coming off the hinges.
Once I have tested and retested the ebook format, I need to get going with the marketing thing. As you can probably tell, marketing is next on my list to research and it looks more confusing than the ebook process. Still, one step at a time. I know I need to work on my social media presence. Sadly, I have learnt through doing the radio show that being on twitter/Facebook lots is just a pain in the bum. At least I know what a # and @ sign are meant to be used for now. That and favoriting something on twitter is not the same as liking something on Facebook.
It seems to me that I am being taught the things I need to know for what I am going to do next without clearly knowing what I am doing next. Or not having planned things as my next course of action. I think it has been a while since I went with the flow and simply saw what happens from trying something. I like being back in that frame of mind.
Take care buddies,
What next? This is the question I am asking myself at the moment. As I feel this is going to be a post that that is therapeutic for me rather than something I think people will be desperate to read (but hoping a few people do anyway) I figure I might as well be honest.
I thought I would have an agent for my book by now. Call it what you will; overly optimistic, using a positive mental attitude, misguided, arrogant or plain stupid, it all boils down to this feeling of ‘Dammit. Why don’t I have an agent yet?’ Now, I know it takes time and even the best writers get rejected etc etc etc but it feels like when you are single and people say ‘Don’t worry. You will find someone. The right person for you is out there.’ Now this is great advice, but it doesn’t stop the loneliness of being single and the thoughts of ‘Screw that. I want someone now!’
Yet I also know it is out of my hands now. I have made the book as good as I can and the rest lies in the whims of capricious fate/agents. It is much like chucking your baby out into the world alone and saying ‘Good luck buddy.’ You hope it will be fine, but once you have let go, it is out of your hands.
Now I face an almost daily challenge between trying to remain positive and influence the universe with my willpower (much like a modern day Sauron but of a more benevolent nature) and thinking ‘Well, this isn’t working, so I need to try something else or something different.
What is that pull to do something else when your current project doesn’t seem to working? Actually, scratch that, what is that push to do something different? A pull feels like an attraction. A push feels like fear. I feel more pushed than pulled at present.
I think fear is a good word. Terrified is better. What if I can’t make one of my dreams in life come true through my own inability to do so? Wow, I have hit a new level of power in being able to bum myself out. Self-doubt is a real bugger. Self-doubt influenced by others is worse.
So, what to do next? My brain, helpful as ever is currently playing the lyrics to ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ in my head.
(The cursor is blinking at me waiting for a conclusion).
Well tough luck Mr Cursor. If I don’t get a conclusion then you certainly don’t.
(Blink, blink, blink.)
It is hard to trust the universe when it has been unkind to you. It is hard to trust karma when you try to do good things and it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. It is hard to have faith in the future when you know the future is a place of surprising twists (both good and bad) that you can never see coming.
All that we have left is ourselves. Our belief, our courage, our hope and our strength to carry on when it all seems impossible. Aside from giving up, what else is there?
And that Mr Cursor is all the conclusion you are going to get.
Take care buddies,
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,
First off, this is not a ‘tips for dealing with rejection letters from agents’ type post. It might be by the end, but I am at the stage of feeling rejected, but not having fully dealt with it yet.
I got my third rejection letter today. I sent my first book to seven agents over three months ago. The three letters were all very positive and said they liked my book but…you can figure the rest out I am sure. I am not sure how I feel about positive rejection yet. It really is a catch 22 situation. I have been rejected (bad) but they liked my book and suggested that I send it to other agents (good) (I think) (I hope).
So, if I look on the bright side, then my percentage of being turned down is less than 50%. I grant you that the percentage for possible rejection is above 50%, but at least there is still the same percentage for an agent saying ‘Yes please.’ I also grant that maths is not my strong point.
So what it comes down to is I am going to believe in the potential for my book being picked up rather than the potential for never getting an agent. In a choice between to unknowns, I might as well go with the positive one as both are equally likely to happen or not happen.
You can take that as a tip if you want to. Even I think it is tenuous, so I leave it in your capable hands.
Oh, and if you have any advice for me on dealing with rejection (and I know about the getting drunk one already) then please let me know. It would be appreciated.
Take care buddies,