Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Conf 69 Not Writing

Where's the time's gone?

It feels peculiar, not writing. Odd.

I have snuk up to check e mails and a few blogs, and look at me here now, but on the whole have stayed away. Have been clearing cupboards, reading fiction, reading recipe books, cooking more inventive meals, applying for jobs, making notes from other authors' fiction, some words theirs, some mine:

Volcanic energy - courage, hope, the person she was - not wipe out.

Pounding

Foaming

Got twatted

Sound as colours (me) (I have to write 'me' in my notes so that I know if they're words I've nicked or not, if they are, I obviously have to change them - if there's more than one that is. There's no copyright on individual words.)

Close (weather)

Sightless

Reading without reading (me)

Slough past

XXX's house is........

Nebulous.

And listening to the radio:

(Jazz trumpet, piano, lots of gaps, tall buildings music, sax crashing into dischord, cool, fresh piano chords. 'Saw the dots' saw the music...)

And reading:

'sits on hot plastic seat in the sun.' (Maggie O'Farrell. WHY did I write that down? Is sits on hot plastic seat so much better than sits on seat? Yes it is I guess.)

'watches the colour sink into brown.' M O'F again

Pearlescent skin, result of staying in too much (nicked from dinner chat with Steve McDonnell).

Slewed

Smell of earl gray (me)

Dream notes, skiing up black slope (me) (not that I'm going through crisis or anything)

And had a massage this afternoon. I've only had massages in Asia where it all seems perfectly natural. Was reminded of hilarious scene in my writing group friend Louise's second novel Are You My Mother. What do masseures do if blokes get turned on?

I was more concerned about my feet - I picked the day when we had the plumber in first thing in the morning. I'd had a shower but had been walking around barefoot all morning, as I do, and when it came to leaving he had all the water turned off while he fixed a new shower unit. Anyway, it was very relaxing apart from that, she didn't say 'yuk look at your feet!' and I feel very toned and cool and am getting things into perspective.

Heard from my old agent today, the foreign rights assistant. My two novels are all set to come out in Russia this August. With the non-fiction, that means I have three books coming out in the next few weeks. Perhaps it's not all over yet.

Am pretty firmed up on new writing practice too. Am keen to get back to it but under new rules: no more than 1,000 words a day. Start off on the computer, print out after several runs through, to mid-sentence to exact number of words if need be, work on hard copy for rest of morning. Clock off at noon. Next day insert corrections and proceed with next 1,000 words, stopping in mid-sentence if need be... In this way I hope to stop it taking over my whole existence, as it has been doing. I now want to make this the best book I can do
.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Conf 68 Standing Back

No. of words: 4,248


Hooray, off the ground.

It's been a few days of unusual activity and enforced calm. Both daughter and partner away on Saturday night, Sunday morning so I had my first experience of Home Alone for nearly eleven years. I had so many plans. An early evening cruise to Tate Modern; early to bed with hot chocolate, biccies and books; more writing; watching the Richard Curtis TV play Girl in a Café. I ended up watching half of that - I enjoyed it until it got to the political bit, and early to bed without the hot choc (too hot outside). I was too tired to go anywhere like an art gallery after a party day at the Topleys on Friday, way down in Hampshire.

I got up early on Sunday and worked on C3. C's 1 & 2 fairly there now. Will leave them for a week or so. Am stepping back on the writing front for a few days. Had a bit of a mini-crisis meltdown yesterday, panicing about all and everything & am under instructions to take a few days off. Have booked a massage for Wednesday & am trying to make myself stay away from the computer. I've got to balance writing with other things.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Conf 67 Mulling

No. of words: 0

'Hop, skip and jump, like Alice over the hedges between the chess squares.' Susan Hill


Some progress. Moved to C2. Have now printed 1 - 3 on hard copy and will work from that till I think I can get it no better. Am then thinking of taking some big leaps in time, backwards and forwards.

Susan Hill:

'Don't look down. That's the trick. I never do. And as for the dull bits, I realized, with even more glee quite some years ago, that what Greene says about James and technique is true in a very special way:

"The moment comes to every writer worth consideration when he faces for the first time something which he knows he cannot do. It is the moment by which he will be judged, the moment when his individual technique will be evolved. For technique is above everything else a means of evading the personally impossible, of disguising deficiency."

The novelist can do anything, is all powerful. As the child says at age for our five, "You can't make me do anything I don't want to." It's as true for the novelist. I simply do not have to do the chores, write the dull bits. I leave them out. Leave the reader to make huge leaps. And the best thing of all is that it works far, far better. It is boring to read a book in which we are made to plod anxiously all the way from A to B. Even more boring to write one.'

(The Agony and the Ego, Ed. Clare Boylan)


Am also considering returning to a schedule: 1,000 wds a day stuff, otherwise it all feels too daunting.

Got to get moving on the job hunt. Am beginning to think productionbase a waste of money. Zillions of keen, bouncy people are trying to get into TV, I'm old and flat and not particularly bothered, it's only because that's where my experience lies. Changed hunt to copywriting, just as hopeless. Oh DEAR!

Another 'how to' piece of advice I'm mulling on:

'Find out what you most want to say and then try very hard not to say it. This will give your writing a secret agenda. Writing with a secret agenda gives prose a pulse, a hidden but very real sense of animation.' James Friel (The Creative Writing Coursebook, Ed Julia Bell & Paul Magrs)

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Conf 66 Reading Aloud

No. of words: 0
No. of final demands in post: 1

Felt a bit glum after writing group on Monday.

The standard was so high and I felt it. They'd heard most of mine before (as I'm still on sodding Chapter 1) so there wasn't much to say, but as I read it aloud I could tell there was still a long way to go before I could move onto Chapter 2. One useful comment was the general dislike of the new name (Cheryl) for main character so it's back to the old name (Sally) for now.

Yesterday very much a coalface day but today things started happening. The all-important opening paragraph has changed completely. It now kicks off right at the crux of the matter, no messing. I'll probably be scrapping most of those 20,000 words I sent out & moving forwards pretty swiftly with the rest of the story. I've also decided to introduce flashbacks, which will bring a whole new perspective.

JH, too, is finding new directions. She was back, all refreshed from her Arvon course, and her novel, first draft completed, has veered in a brand new direction. The new piece she read on Monday evening was stunning, very Martin Amis. As we all said, it just goes to show, you can't underestimate the importance of mulling. Of letting your novel grow of its own accord. Of standing back and letting it ferment for a while and then finding new tangents coming at you out of the blue. In JH's case she has a whole new perspective on one of the main characters, whose voice is now there in first person right the way through. She found the Arvon experience as wonderful as everyone had told her it would be. I wish I could go.

http://www.arvonfoundation.org/

Grumpy old bookman has done a breakdown of my royalty statement today. It's a real insight into the way the publishing game works and I'm very grateful to him. I have to admit, I am so dumb that when I saw my bottom line, I thought that was how much they'd lost with me. Who could have foreseen I'd have more people reading my sad royalty statements than I do my books.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Conf 65 CV Hell

At The Independent an interesting Boyd Tonkin interview with Pete Ayrton, founder of Serpent's Tail, which has been raking in the prizes lately:

"Serpent's Tail, like several of its similarly-sized peers, has profited recently from the ruthlessness of gimmick-driven conglomerates in letting go fine mid-career novelists whose sales failed to hit the mark. 'Many wonderful authors with track-records and lots of skills are becoming available,' says Ayrton. 'I wonder if the larger houses, with their obsessive concentration on youth, are making a serious mistake. They are handing us very experienced, professional writers.' "

Grim day filling out application form for job in local government whilst heatwave raged outside. It took me nearly all of my writing time from 9 until 2.30. By the end I was completely fed up with tossing beaurocrat form-mania with all its poxy person specifications numbered from 1 to 16 which I had to bullshit my way round. How on earth would I ever manage working there all the time? But it's local, and, more importantly, term times only, and, in typical local government style, paying vastly more for paper-creating than any normal place.

The first thing partner said when we got inside the U2 stadium last night was 'damn, I forgot to bring my earplugs'. Still, he enjoyed it as an occasion I think. He sweetly got together a clotted cream, strawberries and champagne tea as a send-off. Daughter wasn't sure either, bemused by the massive size of the place. I think she'd have been happier staying home and playing with his Father's Day paintball gun present. Still, I enjoyed it, I liked the way they moved as much as anything, not the prancing, there wasn't much of that actually, for a rock band. Both Bono & The Edge have this beautiful lyrical sway to them. Incredible that 4 people can create such an atmosphere in a place that big.

It's my writing group meeting tonight, I'm not sure what to read. They've heard C1 too many times, but it is different now so maybe I'll bore them with it again.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Conf 64 A Writing Prize Arrives

No of words: 0
No of writing prizes: 1


I've been working on C1 this morning. Enjoying it again now the pressure's off. Fiddling with words, changing little things here and there, then suddenly shifting a whole chunk somewhere else, and going 'well, look at that now.'

My friend K kindly ran her eye over the first 3 chapters. Be brutal, I told her, and she was. I've dealt with her comments on C1 but won't move on to C2 until I read C1 all the way through without a hint of a wince. One of her major points is wanting to know who this person she's reading about IS, right from the start.

I have to admit, the reason I got to the computer early this morning was to check my soaring blog traffic reports. This is because blogGod grumpyoldbookman wrote some supportive words about me posting my royalty report. It's great to be acknowledged for doing this, but it's only because I'm keeping on the anonymous side of the fence, to do it face on the screen would be another matter. He also mentioned my friend Jacqui Lofthouse's new blog This Stubborn World and wonders why he hasn't heard of her historical novel The Temple of Hymen. All of us who have read it wonder why it's not better known. It was to be another few years before Sarah Waters hit their desks and cleaned up on that front. Not that I'm putting her down at all, I loved Fingersmith, it's just that Jacqui's work is more than equal and no-one's heard of it.

While daughter was away on school adventure trip, a mysterious big brick of a parcel arrived for her. I had to look at it for three whole days till she got back to see what was inside. It turned out to be a Collins dictionary & CD rom, a prize for coming second in a poetry competition. There was a copy of the magazine, Writer's News, too, and a little photo of her inside, and a little biography and her poem, which is called The Zoo. I'd forgotten all about her entering that (off her own bat, I hasten to add). I'd only bought the magazine because my friend Kate was on the cover. I'm tempted to steal the prize and keep it in the office here, but it must stay in her room where she can look at it and be proud of herself. Have you looked at an up-to-date dictionary lately? The one I'm using doesn't even have the word computer in it. This one has websites and under 'Text' a whole list of text messaging translations, like it's so much more than 2DAY & B4N, IYKWIMAITYD.

She went straight on Amazon & looked up poetry manuals & so the creaking credit card flew out of my purse to get her The Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry. All well and good, so long as she doesn't get any ideas about writing a novel.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Conf 63 Shifty Shifting


How to make a book article in the Guardian, pointed out by grumpyoldbookman today, made interesting reading. I love the bit about the author in the bookshop quietly shifting his books to more prominent spots. Hands up any author who hasn't done that. That the bookshop people can probably spot us pseudo-shoplifters lurking around a mile off is funny and true. This poor guy, though, was forced by his publicity department to dress up as a pirate and go round to all the bookshops signing copies.

At the school fair on Saturday I bought a copy of Easy-to-use Feng Shui -168 ways to success. One way will do. One way would be plenty.

I've just done a big house clean-up and changed our bed around to face West while I was at it. They reckon this is the most powerful way to enjoy good fortune. The West is our auspicious direction, apparently (everyone's is different). Facing South, as it was, meant all our sheng chi energy was flowing needlessly away into the ether. Fortunately partner and I have the same direction, otherwise there'd be feet in faces, or worse. He's going to go berserk enough as it is when he sees what I've done.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Conf 62 Re-editing

No. of words: 0

So, it's been all hands on deck, chunky re-edit, C4 disappered completely, and back to chapter 1 for fine edit, followed by fine edit followed by followed by. Some big culls, and good additions. Name/looks/attitude changes all round, no sex changes as yet but might get round it.

Just had this from my friend S, editor of my non-f books before she moved to the countryside:

'Bummer on the agent front. I've decided writing, publishing and editing are all vastly over-rated activities, with major stress and no financial return, and I promise here and now not to allow myself to go back doing any of the above. I think I'll paint and reupholster furniture and flog it on e-bay. Or become a hooker. Whatever. Anything not involving words.'

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Conf 61 Yes, it's a No

No of e-mails from agent: 2
Amazon bingo: -2

My gloom of the last few weeks has now lifted.

The stalemate has passed and the verdicts are all in.

Innocent.

Hooray.

And

New rewrite? No thanks.

Boo hoo.

But not too boo hoo because I knew it. I knew the work I'd sent to the agent wasn't good enough. That's why I was so glum. That's why I'm never ever going to send anything out before I'm done with every word, like a short story or a poem. The time pressures I'd put on myself were destructive.

It's a shame but not the end of the world because I am now getting down and making it work. It's not all awful, but I had come to realise there were major flaws. The agent didn't go into those, it was a very fair rejection, and not of me but of the work. He apologised for the delay in replying but he'd been mulling and had sent it off to some readers for other opinions. The readers confirmed his worries that the writing wasn't hitting all the right notes, the narrative wasn't authentic enough and the story wasn't page-turning enough. He said he really wanted to love it but didn't think he could place it with a publisher. He's left the door open for other ideas & says he's certainly not fobbing me off but understands if I want to try it on other agents.

After lots of supportive notes and calls from the 5 in my writing group I had a good perspective on it all. It was a Friday, daughter had 2 friends staying and the house was full of laughter. The Amazon Gods were also smiling with a -2 housey housey: novel 1 at 8,324 and novel 2 at 8,326, so someone's still buying them somewhere. Even the non-fiction was in the ten thousands.

Yesterday I replied:

I was sorry to hear this, but not surprised. I didn't give myself enough mulling time before sending it off to you and I now feel there are serious flaws. Not least the main character who is bland and uninteresting. I think I've made the mistake of writing her like a 30something instead of a late40something. The Jerry Hall type image I had for her is dull and unrelatable-too, readers will identify with the horrors of ageing, not someone who seems to have defied it; the sex is tacky and the story as it stands a bit stupid. The phone call & the US woman is contrived.

The fact is, I'm an organic writer [how L frm my writing group described me]. Though I have applied myself as best I can to writing a full synopsis for this before the book is written, I'm not a plotter. The stories develop from character and my characters aren't there yet.

Part of my problem has been the panic that finding myself out of contract with an agent and a publisher has given me. I've been racing on this, hoping to get back on the ladder as soon as I can so that I could feel that bit safer about my future as a writer. This was wrong. I need to slow down.

The freelance writing work has dried up lately & is so badly paid that I'll be going back to full-time work in September when my daughter starts secondary school. I've had this date in my head as the time I had to make it as a writer or give up. But this was the wrong attitude. Instead, having a steady income will take the horrible panic away and allow me to write the best book I can. However long it takes....

A

I've been working hard these past couple of days on the changes. I suddenly realised today it's not the 20,000 words I have to deal with but just the first 3 chapters, as that's all anyone new will want to see. One of my jobs is to pull out my favourite lines from the 20,000 and fitting them in the first 3 chapters.

When I've finished, mulled, finished as much as I can finish, I'll send them to the agent who was interested in my other novel and direct to the big publishing house editor I pitched to at the book launch (Conf. 30 ) and that's it. I wouldn't normally do that but because of the connection that's there and the knowledge she loved my first book; also because she's very senior and might suddenly move or retire I'd be crazy not to try her now. After that I'll go quietly away and finish it, get a job and get a life.

The Quicksands reviews are in. The Sunday Times had our Sybille reflecting on her rejections and how they made her the writer she is.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Innocent!

/'>*

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Confession 60 Tag

Genevieve has tagged me.

As I did mine a couple of days ago, I'm handing this one to my 10 yr old:

No. of books owned:

(she's gone off to count them)

192, not including magazines

Last book bought:

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Last book read:

(It's in school bag, gone to look...)

20th Century Girl by Carol Drinkwater 'About a girl who obviously lives in the 20th century and is starting a diary, & that's as far as I got up to.'

4 stars (so far)

Last book finished:

Thief Law by Cornelia Funke

'about 6 children who live in Venice and are robbers. Two of them have just joined them because they ran away and their aunt, who looked after them, sent a detective to look for them.' 100 stars

Five books that mean alot:

The Sign of the Sugar Plum
by Mary Hooper

My mum's book

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Winnie The Pooh by A A Milne

I tag stubborn world a brand new arts blog by my novelist friend Jacqui Lofthouse.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.



Friday, June 10, 2005

Conf 59 Ten Reasons Why Agents Don't Call

No of calls from agent: 0
No of calls from temp agencies: 1
Wordcount: same



Five reasons why agent hasn't called (by my friend K):

- he's having a crisis
- he's doing a massive deal for another writer
- he's overwhelmed with work at his new job
- he's focusing on making his first deal in the new place and will get to you later
- he is mulling about the book.

Five reasons why agent hasn't called (by me):

- he hates it
- he hates it
- he hates it
- he hates it
- he hates it

It'll be 3 weeks on Monday. Not a terribly long time for an agent to respond to 20,000 words, but he's always been so prompt before.

The job hunt is making me feel stressed out and teary as well. Posh agent called back to tell me she couldn't take me on because I didn't have the Excel, Powerpoint , Mailmerge skills. She started going on about my CV again, but, guess what, she turned out to be brilliant. So kind and helpful. She told me exactly where I needed to change it and how to shorten it to 4 pages maximum (mine was 10 pages initially!). I had to take the negatives out (like 'can't do powerpoint etc') and that 'typing speed: fast' wasn't good enough. All the writing stuff had to come out, I'd already realised that myself, many companies won't want a writer under their roof peering at all their private docs. Dummm.

I'm going to the jobcentre in a moment, after bank to pay overdue elec bill, to find out about training, maybe there are some 'back to work' intitiatives but am already thinking I'm going down the wrong path. What path AM I going down?? That's what gets me teary. The confusion of it. Anyway, more positive action yesterday. I paid to join the main TV staff agency,
productionbase.

I really don't relish the idea of getting hassled out in a TV situation again but, again, these negative thoughts are based on my last nightmare freelance experience. So it was rewrite the CV all over again, upping the telly, downing the secs, back goes the writing, especially the non-fiction research.

I'm pitching as a Production Co-ordinator and Researcher. I've applied for 5 jobs already, the very first I looked at was a research job for 4 weeks, based right here, in my little pocket of west London. I've also gone for a co-ordinating job on Richard & Judy (application was a gushing fan letter) and a research job on 60s 70s and 80s rock legends.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Conf 58 Pounding the Pavements

No of calls from agent: 0
No of calls from temp agencies: 1
Wordcount: 26,179

It started so well.

I sat on the front seat of the top of the bus. It was a lovely sunny day, I put one foot up on the sill and watched the world go by. And by and by. It was a long ride. Sir Peter Blake got on at Chiswick High Road. I peeked down the stairs behind me, he sat at the back of the bottom deck.

I got waylaid by Primark, thinking I'd better look at some sensible work type clothes. It was full of lovely kaftans and hippy skirts and the most un-worklike stuff you can imagine. I took down some stuff and then thought, brrr, wrong mission, put them all back and left the shop.

I went into an agency but already I was realising my mistake. I was nearly in central London, but not quite, and the journey time longer on the bus than the train into Waterloo. The jobs much more limited, the rates less.

Didn't have the contact addresses for the central agencies. Turnedabout and went home. Called into the local Government Job Centre out of curiosity. There was work for film extras, but you had to be over 60. Dumper truck driver was about the only job that paid my minimum asking price. The rest were disgusting. Really.

Back home I phoned my chosen agencies. A really poncy one that pays top rates and a media one I've worked for before. Just as well I didn't go into town, registering by e-mail is the way to go. Then they look at your cv and decide if they'll take it any further. So, the call came on my mobile.

'I'm having difficulty reading your cv.'

'Hnn?'

'Your CV, I can't read it.'

'Why?'

'IT'S IN THE WRONG ORDER!'

'Oh. I found your advertisement on secsinthecity and followed their CV guidelines. School first, then your first job and so on.'

'No no NO no no no, I can't read this, you have to work backwards. Resubmit it properly.'

That didn't take long. But then, maybe it was a test. So I was cute as pie and rewrote it.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Conf 57 Steeling up for More Rejection

No. of calls from agent: 0
No. of calls from temp agencies: 0
Wordcount: 22,717


Lionel Shriver won the Orange Prize for Fiction last night for We Need To Talk About Kevin.

I love her interview, she sounds so frank and funny ("After 20 years as a struggling writer I'm not used to things going well.") and I will definitely read this book. It's her 7th, rejected by a string of agents and major publishers before being published by Serpent's Tail. It became a word of mouth hit in New York in 2003. I've also heard that last year's winner, Andrea Levy, was one of us before she had her win. Whenever I hear her on the radio I don't see the now-famous author, I see she could be any one of my writing group, determinedly battling on with the rejections and the no publicity nightmares. My 2 novels, incidentally, I see this morning are getting close to an Amazon bingo situation again: Novel 1: 43,358, novel 2: 43,044.

Have put a stop to the Great Surge Forward on the wordcount and have gone right back to C13. Realised at the end of Monday, after a reasonably good day on C13, how important it is to stop writing on a high. I'd been on a downward spiral: days and days of finishing on a low and starting off the next day on a low. No wonder I was miserable. Graham Greene, famously, used to stop writing in the middle of a sentence. There's no point in doing it if you're not getting anything from it. So, slowly but surely is the new way forward. And, so what if I don't finish it in three months. Maybe it'll take me a year. Maybe I'll do other things as well. Suddenly, with new decisions about working afoot, I don't feel so in the noose with it.

Partner more than happy to take on childcare duties & is offering to give me lifts into town as well. So, spent a large chunk of yesterday secsing up my CV. I e-mailed it to the online agency and really did expect the phone to start ringing. I was on a bit of a high after reviewing my long and healthy career I guess. When I used to temp years ago the agencies were always calling. But then I was a young 20something clued-up to the high-tec world of electric typewriters, telex, banda machines and answerphones. Now I have a horrible feeling I'd better prepare myself for more rejection. What's Excel?? Found a tutorial online. Numbers, yuk. Do I spend time on this?

First things first. In a moment I'll shower and get dressed in my dark trousers and fresh blouse. After ten years at home, I'll take me and my CV off to the Big City. Bah, rejection, used to it. Except not face to face?

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Conf 56 Secschange

When you start dreaming about agent not calling it's time to take a raincheck.

Have been doing ridiculous jobs around house all weekend...

Polishing the showerscreen....... ?!

This isn't writing-avoidance. It's Big Decision avoidance. Or, rather, What Do I Do If...... meditation.

I stopped working after my daughter was born ten years ago and have managed to scrape through all this time without taking a proper job. Well, no, I did do a part time TV job when she went to school full-time, but that was a disaster. TV and part-time don't go.

I wouldn't have missed being at home with my daughter for anything. I'd love to be around for the next 5 years of tea-times and all, but now it's time to seriously consider what I'm going to do next. I planned to wait until September before starting work, but I think I might have to do that earlier and hand over school commute to partner. He's still not got any work. We can't wait for ever for that. Friend J asks why I don't teach creative writing at the college. I've done some teaching stints and guest appearances there. But it's not enough income, and my confidence is shot at the moment.

I've been wondering whether I should go back to what I'm trained for, TV, even though hopelessly rusty. Or take a desk job, a real 9-5er which would leave my sensibility clear for the writing in my spare time. Had a little browse on the Net, the BBC is hopeless, they're just making thousands redundant right now. You only have to look at the vacancies in 'production', then the vacancies in 'management'. The more I think about it, the more I think it'll have to be the office job. Found a great agency secsinthecity which has ZIllions of jobs in Corporate Zone Central. Even some night shift jobs, would that work? Many will want 20/30somethings but I could play the mature and responsible card for some of the higher-powered jobs. Do they still have them in the City? Could I dress up as the part? Would they let me in?

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Conf 55 Answerphonephobia

No. of calls from agent: 0
No. of words: 30,056

Writing is still horrible.

Spent the morning looking at the Guardian jobs pages. Though am virtually unemployable, due to the double-whammy of age and no degree, applied for one: writing for magazines, could be anything from interiors, to health, to kids' stuff. Updated my writing CV, a hotch-potch history if ever there was one.

Drove daughter to her friend's house, quizzing her on her encyclopaedic knowledge of Tracey Beaker in case I get job interview. Really, it would have to be something mad like that. I don't think I can do sensible.

Returned to see

1

on answermachine.

UGH.

Relieved to hear friend's voice wanting the name of a hairdresser. Can't bear to hear from agent now, it's too miserable.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Conf 54 Validating Creativity

No. of e-mails from agent: 0
No. of words: 29,006


Just back from a half-term trip to the Tower of London so no words done today. But did do an extra shift last night. Still Mr. Plod writing but at least there's a forward movement. Was hopeful there'd be some kind of message this evening, in the kind of 'watching agent never calls' sentiment. But no. No. Nothing. The idea of being published again gets more distant and ridiculous-seeming every day.

HOWever nice message from novelist friend jacqui lofthouse announcing the launch of her website. She is in the process of establishing herself as a life coach, with a particular emphasis on creativity - her opening newsletter is all about validating creativity. She discusses and challenges the unsaid but widely accepted view that "as a novelist, one has to be published; as an artist one has to have exhibited and, as an actor, one has to have been paid." Jacqui studied under Malcolm Bradbury at the University of East Anglia, the UK's most prestigious creative writing course, has published three novels and is an established teacher. An interesting twist to her publishing history is her enormous success in Holland, where she has sold over 90,000 copies of her second novel. A salutory lesson in keeping hold of those overseas rights.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.