Saturday, 14 September 2013

Onwards and upwards...


As a final treat, right at the end of the summer holiday, we went wall climbing. I use the word 'treat' with hindsight - since we were all terrified. Look - there's the seven-year-old up there, clinging on for dear life.
And that's me, in my camouflage trousers, pretending to be in an advert for sports drinks or something. Once it became clear that I wasn't going to fall and die, I stopped shaking and realised I ABSOLUTELY LOVE WALL CLIMBING!
Seriously - you should all do this.

See how high I am!
I really didn't want to come down. I kept on trying to climb those walls even when my muscles began to give out on me. Some people might include a tortured writing analogy at this point - and it has occurred to me, but I'd have to live with myself afterwards.

And now it's autumn...the boys have started back at school and the sky has gone grey again. Which is pretty much fine with me.

Husband and self are wading through letters about secondary school transfers, SATs results, open days and catchment areas. Ten-year-old is insisting he must go to the same school that his closest friends are going to. But the general consensus among parents is that this kind of sentimentality must not be taken into account. 
So... at the moment, my plan is to let the ten-year-old go wherever makes him happiest - but to pretend like mad that it's a decision based on Ofsted reports and exam results. Which is probably what most of the other parents will do in the end.
Sheesh! Parenting involves so much dishonesty!

Unlike the last two Septembers, I will not be spending this month submitting my latest attempt at a book to various agents...and harvesting rejection slips!
Weirdly, I kind of miss all that hopefulness.
The book I'm currently writing is taking longer than usual to finish, because I keep setting it aside to edit the one I wrote before. I've been tinkering with that one some more this week - and I have discovered an extremely handy editing tip.
You need to just do it. 

OK, I know it's someone else's slogan. But it can be effectively applied to abso-freakin-lutely everything!
In an email, Actual Agent sent me a list of scenes that slowed the pace of my story and needed cutting. "The shower scene with the Polish man," she said. "Could we cut him completely?"
What? No! Not the Polish man! He's the only remaining minor character (not that I haven't had to chop major characters too!) He has an important role in the plot. He's mentioned at least a dozen times throughout the text. And besides, I'm fond of the Polish man.
I must've wasted an hour or two pacing back and forth rehearsing all the arguments in favour of hanging on to the Polish man. But the fact that Actual Agent has always been right so far, nagged at me a bit. Why would she suddenly be wrong about the Polish man? So I went back to my laptop and chopped him. And you know what? I haven't missed him at all.
Lesson learned. I'm going to try not to squawk about editing in future. I'm going to just do it!
Then I'm going to go and climb a really high wall!

In other writing news, one of my friends from the writing group I belonged to has landed a book deal! Not just any book deal - this one is with Penguin for a six-figure-sum. There was a pre-empt that was turned down by a steely-nerved agent and a six way auction and everything. It was in the Bookseller yesterday (although she tipped us all off last week.) God - even the smallest six-figure-sum is beyond my wildest imaginings!
She deserves it, though. I've described her - somewhere in this very blog - as an effortlessly good writer. And she's been working away at it for much longer than I have.
But six-figures, though. Six-figures! She'll be buying all the drinks from now on, I can tell you!
She is almost incoherent with delight and amazement - which is lovely. And it's fabulously inspiring that this has happened to a real person - See, it can be done! It really can!
But there was a small, ignoble part of me that felt - when I heard - as if it wouldn't happen to me...because it had happened to her instead. Our tiny writing group was not the Bloomsbury group. Statistically, it couldn't happen for all of us. I was feeling ashamed for even having this thought, when she (the-now-famous-writer-I-know) sent me an email admitting that she thought it would never happen for her because it had already happened to a girl she went to primary school with.
So maybe there IS still room for everyone who wants to be a published writer if we only keep on trying - that's a happier thought and I'm going to cling to it.

It only remains for me to show off the fabulous pale green stag's head I bought last week. The book I've just finished editing includes a room decorated almost entirely with antlers and it was in my head when I spotted this one. Ah, the old days, eh?