Sunday, 30 October 2011

Childhood

I was sat on the train with Dos yesterday and lost in my own little world. We were heading out for a change of scenery as we reasoned that since the messy business of breaking up, we hadn't actually spent any 'nice' time together. We're still friends after all so its about time we did. So, off to Chester we went.

Sitting across from us on the journey was a little boy with his grandmother listening intently as she read a book out loud to him. He, like me, was lost in his own world while she talked in hushed tones about magic and witches.

It made me smile.

An author will have sat on their own, probably in silence, writing that book completely unaware it would be enjoyed in such a manner further down the line.

It also made me think about my own childhood and often having my nose buried in a book or listening with almost obsessive intent to my mum or my school teacher reading a book out loud. When your imagination is as overactive as mine, a book is perfect. I loved painting my own picture rather than being shown every last scrap of detail like in films.

The last few weeks have made me think about being a kid a lot. I think its all of the melancholy moments of living alone and having the time to take stock and really think about things.

Continuing with the theme of childhood, Uno and I packed our little selves off to Blackpool today - the place I spent many a joyful day out. The place that holds such a special place in my heart that I dedicated an entire chapter of Driving Exile to it. It's like a living, breathing comedy sketch for all of the right and wrong reasons.

Whenever I'd return from Blackpool as a child, I'd write. I always wanted to write a story about a fair or about being an entertainer. For a while I thought I might actually run away to Blackpool to 'make my fortune' which now makes me smile when I actually see the lack of opportunity there.

To say I've 'regressed' is spot on. I'm somewhere between melancholy and determination to succeed. Getting that burning fire in my belly to achieve my dream, yet at the same time, crippled by confusion and fear of the unknown.

I've got a pack to send to one very lucky agent this week and I'm struggling to choose who to send it to next. It feels like I'm playing Roulette sometimes. I suppose the publishing game is a bit of a gamble - right place at the right time and all that. Some of the lovely people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter/Facebook have asked whether I'd ever consider self-publishing. I have.

But I'm not ready to give up on this approach yet.

What would the seven year old Emma say?

The eleven year old Emma?

Fourteen?

Well, the fourteen year old Emma would probably tell me to fuck off and then carry on watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer without another word, but you get the picture.

I'd hate the face the childhood version of myself and kneel in front of her, take her by the shoulders and say, "Emma, when you grow up, you'll write a book and you'll love it but after a few rejections, you give up and carry on working a nine to five for the rest of your life."

She'd cry and probably hit me for being such an idiot. Then ask me what would have happened if the Spice Girls just 'gave up'. I'd have to shrug and bite my lip to refrain from telling her that she actually goes off the Spice Girls and gets into classic rock.

One thing at a time, eh?

And that's what I think I need and probably all of us to some extent. We need to remember who we were as children and imagine meeting ourselves now and explaining why we're doing what we're doing. And, more importantly, where we're planning on going.

When I'm feeling like I can't be arsed writing, or putting together another agent pack, I'm going picture myself, pad and pencil in hand, as a little kid, jotting my stories, poems and song lyrics and dreaming of getting older so I could make it all a reality.

I already feel like I've got a lot of making up to do to her.

However, if she can forgive Geri Halliwell for leaving the Spice Girls then I have every faith she can forgive me for stalling on my dreams.

Love,

Em

x

Em, I forgive you for being crap, and hope one day you'll
forgive me for this ill-judged Kays catalogue pose.
Lot of love, 11 Year Old Em x
(Girl Power!)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Where do all the hours go?


I've just sat down with a coffee in my flat.

Nothing unusual about that. However, this is the FIRST time I've done this in the last few weeks. The one thing I was worried about has happened - my new job has taken over my life.

Don't get me wrong, after a hellish couple of weeks desperately trying to keep my head above water after being thrown in the deep end, it's going okay. I think I'm starting to get it. Hope so anyway. As with any job though, I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets better so we'll see.

Bloody hell, doom merchant or what...

On a lighter note, the location of the job is walking distance so I get to listen to my music and get lost in my own little world. During this dreamtime, I've been thinking a lot about Book 2 and then going home in the evening and typing away, sharing it with the wonderfully eager Uno and Dos.


Slight issue....

Teeny tiny issue...

Not even worth mentioning really...

But, I've kinda stopped thinking about trying to get Driving Exile published. Why? Oh, I don't know really. Time plays a massive part and the last few weeks haven't granted me much of that unfortunately. No excuse though, I need to get that manuscript on the desks of agents. Lots and lots of agents.

I need more than three rejections under my belt. Especially if my plan to wallpaper my bathroom with them comes to fruition...

I've sorted my first three chapters out once and for all and I'm on fire with my little printer now! Printers and I have historically had a bit of a stormy relationship but this one seems to finally be playing ball. Runs out of ink quickly though. Honestly, what with the ink, paper, folders, envelopes and postage, it's turning out to be an expensive game this book malarkey.

Yes, I have ink in my printer but nothing but a tin of tuna, two eggs and a lime (at least I think its a lime...) in my fridge. I'd knock on at my neighbours flat and ask for some bread or leftovers but I fear I've pissed them off royally over the last couple of months by blasting Planet Rock at all hours of the day and night. It's on right now. If I never blog again, its because the police have hauled me away for anti social behaviour.

Or is it disturbing the peace?

Oh god, I don't know. I think I might need more sleep.

Keep rockin' (albeit quietly)

Em

x



Wednesday, 12 October 2011

All work and no play..



I think I've used that quote in the past, however, I do think Jack Torrence and I have a lot in common. I mean, I'm a writer, I live alone (forgot the wife and son element, the dude was practically only alive in his own head), I have a fear of spooky twin girl ghosts, I have conversations with imaginary people, I have a manic stare sometimes (usually when I'm supposed to be paying attention to something but start thinking about my book). And last but not least, there's the axe connection...

Okay, I don't have an axe but a member of my family was once arrested for chasing someone down the street with an axe (my heart swells with pride...)

Here's Johnny!

In short, I feel myself to be really rather mad these days. I spent the entire evening on Monday in tears about...well, everything really. I started my new job last week which has been slightly overwhelming and my head has been spinning. I'm conscious of neglecting my book as I talked about in my last post but I suppose there's going to be a bit of give and take over the next few months as I get settled in work.

I've managed to bang out more than 40,000 words of Book 2 though which is a result. I've even managed to stick to the same scene the last few times I've written which was unheard of when I wrote Driving Exile as I'd get bored and write random bits and bobs. The fun and games really started when it came to editing and trying to make some sense of what I'd been writing for the last four years. Think I've learned my lesson for Book 2 though.

Speaking of Driving Exile, with three rejections in the bag, I've had a bit of a rethink with my chapters. I deliberately made my chapters short and snappy but when most agents just want your first three chapters to evaluate, there's not a lot to go on. Most say they want no more than 100 pages so I've decided (for the purposes of agents getting a clearer idea) to revise these first three chapters and make them longer. At least then, they get to meet all of the characters. If they get that far of course...

Anyway, I printed off the 93 page wonder (lucky agents!) and I now need to purchase a folder, hole-punch, padded envelopes, new black ink cartridge, and sticky back plastic (not, really). Just need to choose the next agent on my hit list...

Keep rockin'!

Em

x

Ps. This week I'm mostly hearting Blue Oyster Cult and Mikky Ekko!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fear

Did I start my last blog with the line 'what a week'? Wow, that was a bit premature...

This has been quite a week what with starting the new job and all. It's been tiring but exciting to be doing something new and to be back in PR again.

That aside, the self-indulgent writer in me has been left feeling overwhelmed by everything. So much upheaval for a little person to take in such a short space of time has left me almost ready to bolt for the hills.

The new job has also made me feel melancholy about my book. It's all consuming when you start a new job - your focus has to be with that for a while. It's tough for someone whose focus had drifted away from the day job a while ago to make space for my writing. Now, it feels like writing is just a pipe-dream again and that I need to forget it and focus on what pays the bills. It's like I'm playing around and half-heartedly picking up a pen and paper on occasion or just melodramatically blogging to you guys about how I remain unpublished.

It's like a dream slipping away from me rapidly and I'm desperately trying to claw it back.

Melodrama and self-indulgence are clearly the order of the day but these are the sort of thoughts buzzing around my head.

Due to how busy I've been this week, I've not had the chance to post my book out to any other agents which means it's not out there at all. No one is reading (albeit rejecting) it so it's just sat on my laptop. A pretty little word document serving absolutely no purpose.

In order to try and connect with my old feelings of excitement, I took myself out today for a coffee with my laptop and did some work on Book 2. It was merely a few paragraphs but it made me feel slightly better.

I think I'm just scared of the reality of getting published slipping away from me. I joined an awful lot of clubs and tried various hobbies as a little girl and they completely consumed my life...for five minutes. Then I'd get bored or disheartened I wasn't very good at it and give up. It followed me into adult life and I lost count of how many times Dos would grow frustrated with my 'I can't' and 'I give up' attitude. It culminated about four years ago with me taking a look at my life and coming to the conclusion I had no tangible interests whatsoever. I'd promptly picked up my laptop to get on with writing Driving Exile (as well as invest in some decent trainers so I could take up running - the only sport I ever really enjoyed).

I'm just a bit nervous that Driving Exile is just a phase - another 'moment' in my life that I move on from soon when I inevitably decide I want to be an astronaut or something equally as daft. Just like my cupcake business I wanted to start a couple of years ago (I still have an obscene amount of baking books and cookie cutters in my kitchen). And the coffee van I so passionately wanted to drive around in, serving hot beverages at festivals.

You can probably tell I'm stuck up in my head at the moment. Feeling sad about various things and scared about others. It's the threat and the promise of a new chapter, I suppose.

I'll be posting some more manuscripts out to agents next week. I'll keep doing that until I run out of agents, or until I make that first trip into space.

Em

x

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Though she be but little, she is fierce

Ah, what a week.

Myself and Tres indulged our love for all things literary on a lovely break to Stratford Upon Avon to see where our mate Shakespeare was born. Admittedly, we did decide to spend our cash on cream tea rather than tours around famous landmarks but it was still classed as educational. Honest.

This was also the last week in my job so I've been spending the weekend preparing myself for starting my brand spanking new one tomorrow.

Oh, and I got another book rejection. That makes three. I was doing a bit of Internet research (AKA trying to make myself feel better) and stumbled upon the following list which gives a list of famous books and how many times they were rejected before getting that all important YES.

Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis (15)
Carrie, Stephen King (30)
Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfeld and Mark Victor Hansen (140)
Diary of Anne Frank (16)
Dr. Seuss books (15)
Dubliners, James Joyce (22)
Dune, Frank Herbert (23)
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (38)
Harry Potter book one, J. K. Rowling (9)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (18)
Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl (20)
M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker (17)
The Peter Principle, Laurence Peter (16)
The Prncess Diaries, Meg Cabot (17)
Watership Down, Richard Adams (26)
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, (26)

I'd had it in my head JK Rowling was turned down thirty-something times but alas, not true. Goodness me, I can't help but wonder whether those nine people who rejected Harry Potter are able to live with themselves...

The list has made me feel even more fiery and determined. Driving Exile is of course my baby and I feel protective of it but at the same time, its genuinely a bloody good book. I know that sounds big headed but it's true. It's a great book and I truly believe its destined for big things. I'm embracing my new found confidence (hoping to god, it doesn't come across as arrogance...) and had to smile when I saw t-shirts and fridge magnets in Stratford with the quote in the subject line. I think it sums me up at the moment, well, I'll always be little so perhaps the fierce bit, I mean.

Yes, it was a big week.

Made even bigger by the fact I've been hammering away several more thousand words of Book 2. I'm on a roll now. It's funny how Driving Exile took me four years to get my finger out and get finished, yet I can see this one being done by Christmas at this rate. Oh god, then I'll be back to editing hell again....

Wish me luck with my new job tomorrow. Scary stuff!

Em

x