Chaos!

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time! When I decided to write and publish a book, undertake a creative writing course, keep up with my commitments to the writers group, write a blog and manage all this while doing a full-time job and have a bit of time for a social life, I don’t know what I was thinking.

After the relative calm of July and August, September and October have been a whirlwind of activity! It’s business planning season at work and most of the local responsibility for this lies with me. There have been endless meetings that have taken me away from home for days at a time and all the ‘stuff’ that hasn’t happened over the summer seems to be happening all at once now that everyone is back at work.

We managed to squeeze in a cheeky little holiday in Corfu in September. It was just what the doctor ordered. Sunshine, sea and pebbles (rather than sand), great food and the perfect combination of people, in the form of just me and, the long-suffering, Mr Small. We deliberately did very little other than eat, sleep, walk and lie on the beach, taking the opportunity to relax and recharge after what has been a crazily busy year so far. I even managed to use the experience as the basis for a travel article assignment for the course.

The course is going well. The travel article was the 6th assignment and I have already started Assignment 7 which is all about writing reviews. I’ve been getting straight B’s and encouraging feedback from my tutor. So far, in addition to the letters and fillers I referred to in the previous post, I have written:

  • a feature on my experience at the writers’ retreat for Writing Magazine
  • a light-hearted article for Cosmopolitan on Men’s Public Toilet Etiquette
  • a travel article for Woman and Home on independent travel in Barbados
  • a travel article on Eating in Kassiopi, Corfu for BBC Good Food

My tutor has asked me, after a few tweaks, to submit all the articles but so far only one has been accepted and published. The letter to Woman’s Own on the Bank of Mum and Dad was accepted and published on the 24th of October and earned me £25!

Bank of mum and Dad

Writing Magazine were decent enough to reply and explain that they were not going to publish the Writers Retreat piece as they have published similar articles in recent months. I found a women’s writing magazine called Mslyexia in the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2018 and have re-submitted it to them, emphasising the benefits of getting away to write from a women’s perspective.

I bought the Writers and Artists Yearbook because Wait for Me has moved on to the next stage! Anita and I finished the editing process a few weeks ago and I am now trying to find an agent. Anita has been a star and I’ll always be grateful for the help, support and encouragement she has given me. We’d got a date in the diary for me to treat her to dinner but she now has to go into hospital for a knee replacement so we’ll have to postpone until she is better.

In terms of finding an agent, so far I have submitted to:

  • Ki Agency who represent Martin Carey, the author of The Girl With All The Gifts
  • The Madeleine Milburn Agency, because I read a great article in the yearbook that she wrote
  • The Kate Nash agency, because I think I might have more success with a smaller agency

I’ve not heard anything yet but all have sent their standard emails acknowledging receipt and indicating how long I should wait before accepting that they are not interested. It’s a time consuming process scanning through agents in the yearbook, or tracking down the agents of authors who write in a similar genre, then putting a submission together in keeping with their guidelines.

My sister, who was the ‘ideal reader’ I had in mind as I wrote Wait for Me, has finally read it! Her feedback was so positive it really excited me. I know she will tell me the truth whatever it is! She loved it. She said she didn’t want it to end!

She did have a couple of constructive criticisms though, and reassuringly they are things I have thought about myself. She felt the book could be longer and that one section in particular, felt a little incomplete. I totally agree as, in retrospect, and if I am totally honest with myself, when I was at the writers retreat I was so anxious to finish the book that I may have rushed that section of the story I was so keen to get to the end. I think I will go back and expand that further down the line if and when I get closer to publication.

She also picked out a big flaw with the timelines in the book that no one else had picked up including me. The story is set in the current day and Lisa is a thirty-five year old woman. My sister pointed out that some of the references in the story such as 9/11, her marriage and her past, as well as some of the dialogue, don’t fit with her age. I can’t believe I didn’t see that! It’s a big error but not impossible to fix. If I make her forty-five, it all fits into place much better.

I’ve been thinking about how that happened. People have asked me if I am Lisa and I always say no. but I have created her inside my head and to an extent I am her and she is me, or at least a mixture of who I am and who I want to be. As a result, I have told her story through my own eyes and the fact that I am much older than thirty-five has leaked into the text.

So, to add to my to-do list, I have a bit of work to do on Wait for Me to fix that one. Fingers crossed some of the agents I have submitted to already won’t have noticed and if they have it won’t have put them off.

Anyway, it’s Sunday and Mr Small has gone off to watch his Grandson play rugby (he’s only three BTY). I have another couple of hours to myself so after I’ve hang up my washing I’m off to start my next assignment. I’ll try not to leave it two months before my next post but that is the reality of trying to develop a writing career while also doing a full-time job!

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