Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CONF 463: THE AGONY AND THE AGONY

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Another rejection. The agent who used the 'love' word. He and his colleague had both loved the opening chapters and have had the full ms for about 2 months now. That one.

Another so near but so far rave. Said it was a very, very (his two verys not mine) near miss for them. It is very good and there was so much they did like about it but the novel doesn't quite sustain itself enough to attract attention in very unforgiving market. He's sure another agent will find the 100% confidence. Oh good. Well, I am getting a little more certain it's true. It's still with the editor so perhaps it's just as well. What would I have said if he'd phoned and said yes we have both spent several hours of our precious times reading the whole novel and we now want to progress this. Then I'd have had to fess up that another agent had contacted me with an editor keen to read. It did take them a long time to reply, so they shouldn't have been too annoyed but it might have been awkward. I am also heartened to discover that the entire book is readable, because I know the second half needs more work, and in theory I should be doing something about that. But I also feel there's so much to fall in love with if they're going to and I now have so many other projects under way plus, of course, I have to work.

I also had another response to an ANCIENT query letter yesterday, all of 3 months ago, from the assistant to agent at very swishy topnotch agency that destroys any unsoliciteds on contact and only reads manuscripts on request. I emailed back and told them it was being read by an editor but as it was an exclusive and the ms hadn't been seen by any other publishers, could I wait for that response and then get in touch? She replied saying that would be good and wished me luck.

Luck.

As, on the domestic front, disaster looms even more ominously as each day passes, I kept this great piece by Tim Lott, writing about happiness, luck and hope in the Standard the other week. Since he's given up hope he feels so much better.

Happiness is not freedom from unhappiness, negative feelings are inevitable from time to time, but happiness feels larger - a calm, centred "field" within which both pain and pleasure are experienced. ...to assume you are entirely the author of your own fate is nuts. In reality, luck is soaked into every moment of every one of our days from the moment of our accident of birth, with our accidental genes and our accidental parents. Furthermore, you can't always tell whether it's good luck or bad luck. There's a Taoist fable that tells of a farmer whose horse runs away. "Bad luck." says the neighbours. "Maybe," he replies. The farmer's son takes one of the horses for a ride and breaks his leg. "Bad luck," say the neighbours. "Maybe," he replies. The next day, a press gang arrive to take his son off to war, but his injury prevents his almost certain death on the front. "That's lucky," say the neighbours. "Maybe," says the farmer. The moral of this story is: don't imagine you know what is going on in your life. Things change all the time in the most unexpected way. So don't get too worked up about the situation you're in. (Oh I do love that bit.) As Kipling suggested, triumph and disaster really are both imposters. This isn't fatalism. Over a long enough period, effort and courage and intelligence are liable to produce results. But they are not bound to. That things go wrong, or right, has less to do with you than you think. Yet self-blame remains our favourite, and often our secret vice. We are addicted to it because it makes us feel less helpless. To understand that most times luck trumps the self, and that what looks like bad (or good) luck, often isn't what it appears to be at all, is to relieve yourself of a great burden. to understand luck, in other words, is to grasp happiness. Or perhaps it is to realise that it cannot be grasped at all - only accepted.

Keep doing the feng shui, that's what I say.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

5 comments:

Charmaine said...

Enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for posting the Tim Lott piece. Good Luck with your literary efforts ;-)

leatherdykeuk said...

It's going to be snapped up soon, I'm sure.

Amanda Mann said...

Thank you!

Lucy Diamond said...

Agony indeed - but such encouraging agony if that makes sense. I'm sure agents don't use the 'love' word very often - sounds a very close call.
Love your new picture by the way!

Anne Brooke said...

Poor you, Amanda! I had one of those letters this week too. Ah well. Thank goodness for my tried and trusted (and actually far more enjoyable than my one commercial offering) self-publishing path!

A
xxx