Monday, 16 December 2013

In which I am Deeply Disturbing!

I've been blogging for two years today!
And I'm far from convinced it'll ever become a useful-social-media-tool or whatever blogs are supposed to be. Mine is a diary really. A diary with photographs. Or maybe a photograph album with added thoughts. 
I have a bad habit of attempting to live in the future - 'When I'm a proper writer'...'When we have more money'...'When the boys are a bit older...'  So it's useful for me to have a record of real time - Halloween costumes, day trips, changing seasons, birthdays and biscuit baking - and writing progress, of course. My blog makes me stop and register the good stuff - even if it seems kind of small at the time.
The only problem with having a blog as a personal diary is that I can't keep it under my pillow - real people can look at it!
I mean, they don't - not generally. Not if the Blogger stats are any indication. But they can.  
Like the publisher I met on Friday, who - with a very twinkly smile - mentioned my shiny silly plastic ring...and finally my fondness for Peter Lorre. I was babbling away madly like some sort of jackass - (an inevitable reaction whenever I meet someone with quiet eloquence, poise and thoughtfulness. Seriously - it's unnerving!) but the Peter Lorre reference shut me up...and gave Rachel Leyshon the chance to tell me she'd looked at my blog.
Yeep! Simultaneous horror and pride that I had created a useful-social-media-tool after all.
Look, there's the Chicken House door. I was standing right outside it on Friday with sweaty palms, trembly knees and many other clichés. And I can tell you - from personal experience - that the bell needs to be pressed firmly - or you will remain standing there in the drizzle, while your assortment of clichés gets steadily worse.
I said in my last post that I had resigned myself to a Christmas without any writerly developments, but that was before my agent suddenly called and asked if I'd like to meet the Chicken House team and maybe pick up a little feedback on my manuscript. (Oh Lord, has my agent been reading the blog too? This is going to give me total-blog-freeze!)
Already, I can't remember much about it. I was too weirded-out on excitement and nerves. My impression of the Chicken House offices is that they were bright and homely and mis-matched and arty - with piles of books and box-files everywhere.
And everyone was so nice.
They talked about books and writing (and buttons!) and said so many lovely things about my own writing that I pretty much fell in love with all of them.
Several times, Rachel Leyshon gestured at me with the words '...writers like you...' - which made me go very misty-eyed. And Barry Cunningham - yes - Barry Cunningham - said my descriptions were very visual. I think he said there was a real immediacy to my writing too. God, I wish I'd had the foresight to wear a hidden tape-recorder. (Not that I've actually got a tape-recorder. Can you still get tape-recorders?)
I definitely remember him praising the scary bits in my story, because he said that some parts of my writing were 'deeply disturbing.' And I remember thinking that if I can't have that quote on a book cover one day, I'll have it on my gravestone instead.
It was around this point in the meeting that Barry Cunningham took my incoherent tearfulness as an indication that they simply hadn't praised my writing enough. He darted out onto the landing and returned with an actual YA writer in tow - so that she could tell me that she liked my book too.
This is how I met CJ Skuse, author of Dead Romantic, Pretty Bad Things and Rockoholic - and who told me I write very realistic teenagers. I nodded and smiled - and in my head I was thinking that if I ever get to be a YA author I will be exactly like CJ Skuse. I will be down-to-earth and funny and friendly and kind to wannabes.*
*Obviously I won't really. I'll be a monster.
I can only conclude that Chicken House keep a stock of YA authors in a large cupboard on their upstairs landing in readiness for these sorts of moments. I'd quite like to go and live in that cupboard myself. Maybe one day.
Barry Cunningham is one of only three people who can legally sign things with Harry potter's signature (the other two being JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe). As I was leaving, he gave me a copy of Chamber of Secrets made out to my ten-year-old from the boy wizard himself. Do you see what I mean about the niceness?
Anyway, very broadly, the advice I was given is that my two different timelines are pulling away from each other and I need to link them together more closely.  It's great to have something positive to work on over Christmas. (As long as I don't miss my children opening their presents because I'm sitting at my desk muttering to myself about legacies, family curses and bequests).
Husband has just recorded Cloud Atlas for me. He's claiming it has five or six different timelines and they're all cleverly linked. Vaguely remember this is what put me off reading the book when it came out, but it could be a good place to start.
The tree is up, the presents wrapped and another dozen simpering Victorian children have been revealed on the advent calendar. Happy, happy, happy!


  1. Oh wow, Wow, WOW! Go you! What a positive and exciting time you had, feedback from Barry Cunningham, now there's an early Christmas present. Goes to show we never know what's around the corner on this writing journey. Hope it is the start of something for you. Have a lovely Christmas and enjoy all that plotting and editing amongst the family fun.

    P.S If you find any spare space in that cupboard of authors I'd be pleased to join you! xx

    P.P.S Happy 2nd Blogiversary.

    1. Aw - thanks, Suzanne. When the good bits happen, they more than make up for the rejections and the self-doubt. I'd LOVE it to happen for both of us - no reason why it won't xxx


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