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So, for the last couple of days I have been busily engaged in packaging up and sending off my precious first ever novel manuscript to a selection of literary agents, mostly in the London area. This has been a task/milestone that I have been looking forward to for months, but now that it is here it has been done with a certain amount of trepidation and fear.
The first problem came with the mild shock of the sheer cost of postage these days. Didn’t it used to be a fairly cheap privilege to lick the back of the Queen’s head and gum her face to an envelope? Maybe the high price is paying for all those unnecessarily ridiculous Jubilee celebrations. If they were going to bring back the Sex Pistols playing on a boat down the Thames I wouldn’t mind paying, but as it stands we will have hours and hours of sycophantic TV and ‘celebrations’ full of fake joy – all telling us how marvellous and hard working the Queen is. All when we didn’t even vote for her. But maybe I should save my republican ideals until another post before I rant too much? (that isn’t like ‘Republican’ in America by the way) – I will quote Thomas Paine before I swiftly move on, this pretty much sums up my feelings about the monarchy:
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right…”
But enough of digression…
The second fear came when I finally handed over my carefully packaged envelopes in the post office and when I clicked the ‘send’ button on my (strangely cheaper) email submissions. Had I really checked and proof-read every word? Every punctuation? What about all those typos I probably missed when I read through it eighty seven times? Will I be rejected because they don’t like my handwriting on the envelopes? Maybe I should have typed labels or something? I bet there is some glaring mistake in all those I sent off! Such a precious package! Hope I got it right…
Then, once I had sent them, I got to thinking. Imagining my packages landing on the desks of jaded agents and tired agency ‘readers’. How could I have possibly thought they would be remotely interested? How foolish of me…I know I will be rejected, like all the thousands of others they reject. I could have saved all those pounds on postage!
In the end my mind conjured my biggest fear. What if, by some miracle of miracles, one of them actually likes my manuscript? And, God forbid, thinks I have talent and potential? The problem then would be – what if I don’t like them?? Should I hang out for a better agent or jump for the first one? Oh to be given such a choice…
Now the waiting begins…
UPDATE: So I have had TWO (count them – 2) email rejections within 24 hours of sending it out. Which obviously begs the question – did they actually read anything I sent? Well probably not, but then this was something I was expecting from some agencies…ho hum…chin up it’s a sunny day! (23rd May 2012)
What do you think?
© 2012 Simon Poore
Writers are often told to think about themes and ‘motivations’. Why do characters do what they do? Today I have been thinking about this and it seems obvious to me that any writer is going to either write about ‘feelings’ and motivations that they have had personally or they imagine or ‘empathise’ about how it might feel to be in a certain situation. This, it seems to me, is the very stuff of writing itself. Especially fiction.
The problem comes with the idea that the feelings that I might have, or imagine to have, may not be the feelings that others would feel in a given situation. Is there actually a set of feelings and responses that we all have? Something in us that is universal?
That swirling feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you are deeply attracted to someone and your emotions translate into a physical feeling you cannot ignore. Have you had that? Does it actually ‘feel’ the same for me as it does you? Or maybe my brief description of it is inadequate?
Commentators often talk of ‘universal’ themes such as ‘love’, ‘jealousy’, ‘conflict’ etc. In the classic plays of the Greeks or in Shakespeare for example. As if such things are fixed and it is a given we all know what they mean no matter when or where we come from. I guess I have a certain pedantic problem with that idea. Firstly those plays were written in very different times to now. And in very different forms of language. Modern scholars can only really speculate about meanings in such plays and pretty much guess that those playwrights meant what we think they mean. The reality is that we have no idea what they meant, and without a time machine, we will never know.
The logical extension of this relativistic idea is that when I write I can never know if any potential reader has a clue what I mean. But over the last few months I have learnt to be less pessimistic about it. Does it matter if people misunderstand? No. Will readers be entertained and empathise with my characters? I hope so…
I like to believe that those beautiful butterflies are real and that we have all felt them and in turn they have made us all feel so alive…even if it’s only for the briefest of moments…
What do you think?
© 2012 Simon Poore