Forum Replies Created
March 26, 2020 at 11:21 am #8047
I will say congratulations again on here, Laure! Absolutely brilliant. Well done!March 26, 2020 at 11:18 am #8046
Just caught up with this. What brilliant news, Janette. So very, very pleased for you. Congratulations! Well done. (News like this always gives me hope!!!) xMarch 10, 2020 at 7:19 pm #7913
Thanks, Squidge! Don’t worry – I’m not giving up. Thanks for the vote of confidence!March 8, 2020 at 1:24 pm #7869
Thanks, Jill and Philippa. I’m getting over the experience! But I still want to find a balanced overview about 1) whether book club fiction is a thing, and 2) whether age matters. I’m prepared to accept that it isn’t (as far as pitching to editors is concerned) and it does, but I’d still want an agent who said ‘We’ll show them …’ rather than ‘How are you going to show them…?’March 4, 2020 at 10:00 am #7863
Thank you for the beta read offers. I’m not sure I’m ready yet, but I will keep you in mind, and return the offer. Swapsies!March 2, 2020 at 3:29 pm #7834
Congratulations, John! Well done to all – and thanks to Libby for the comp and the perceptive comments.March 2, 2020 at 2:32 pm #7833
And thank you for your comments too, Mad Iguana.March 2, 2020 at 2:31 pm #7832
Debi thank you for this. Yes, I do think you’re right about the agent giving her time and it’s true that my disappointment is down to my expectations and hopes more than anything else. As I say, she was perfectly ‘nice’ and of course her prime motivation is going to be can she sell it. But in the meeting, I felt her doubt about this came across more strongly than any love for the book. I suppose what she might have hoped was that I would respond with an enthusiastic ‘Yes, I see exactly what you mean, and I can certainly make those changes,’ etc.
It’s interesting and helpful to have your take on the age thing and the book club fiction issue, too.
I would never shout at you, Debi! Your wisdom, knowledge and encouragement are truly valued, by me and by many, many people.March 1, 2020 at 8:11 pm #7821
Thank you everyone for your solidarity and kind comments about my writing, and for the encouragement to realise all the positives in this tale as well. And, @janette, for someone not to reply properly having suggested revisions – that is, indeed, unprofessional.
I am taking a step back from that experience and that novel, and working on the next. It’s the only thing to do, really. But I may come back to it, and to her notes. I’m not dismissing everything she said. If I ever get another request for a meeting, I might ask for some clarification first…February 28, 2020 at 6:53 pm #7799
To be fair, she didn’t say it was about representation. I just thought/hoped it would be. She said it was to discuss suggested revisions and how we might work together. As well as the thing about commercial/literary, there were so many aspects of the book that she thought didn’t work, I even asked her why she had wanted to meet me and she said because she had read the book all the way to the end. (?!!) I suppose if I had enthusiastically agreed with her opinions and assured her I could do exactly what she asked, and if I was a publicist’s dream (it was in this context she mentioned age, Raine, and definitely a negative), she might have been keener! The notes she emailed later did have some positive feedback in.
I think Philippa might have signed before she’d done the rewrite, but maybe not. Either way, she knew her agent basically loved her book. And this one did not give me the impression she loved mine.
It’s a tricky one, Ath, about making the book better. Because from her point of view, she has to think about whether she can sell it, and for her that meant she’d have to pitch it in a category. You would think ‘better’ = ‘marketable’, but maybe not.
To be honest, although it was a huge disappointment, I’m not very confident with skype or phonecalls, so I did appreciate the chance for a face-to-face meeting. And I can chalk it up to experience.
Also, there must be reasons why none of the other full requests wanted to go any further – maybe they were similar to her reasons. Who knows.
It’s a hard business, this writing lark, innit?
Good to have support and friends on here, or where would we be?February 28, 2020 at 4:53 pm #7795
Rachel agreed, in the end, to a bath.
The water was hot. There were bubbles. The scent made her think of purple.
She closed her eyes. Lowered herself, let her hands float, slid down until her head was under water. She let the breath go out of her and waited. Slowly, she pushed herself back up. Water dripped from her face, her hair. Steam billowed round her and there were long gaps between her breaths.
She struggled into joggers and a jumper, went downstairs. In the living room, cards crowded every surface. Doves and angels, candles and rainbows and pastel-coloured hearts. Flowers stood in vases on the floor and the coffee table – white ones, mostly, and the scent was heavy and thick and sweet.
It was a foreign land. She could not be here, with all this.
‘I’ll make some tea.’ Gail said.
Rachel followed her into the kitchen, drank some tea and ate half a biscuit, but it was hard to swallow. Her throat was sore.
Gail sat opposite and reached across the table, took Rachel’s hands in both of hers. Her skin was rough. The other half of the biscuit lay among a scatter of crumbs.
‘If there’s anything I can do…’ Gail said.
‘What? What can anyone possibly do?’
‘I mean – to help you get through this. I can pray with you, if you –’
‘I don’t want to get through it. I don’t want to…’
Gail squeezed her hands, gently. Took a breath as if she was going to say something else, then changed her mind.
Rachel yanked her hands away, pushed her chair back, sprang up from the table. Yelled, ‘I just want it not to have happened. I want her not to be dead. I want her back. I want her back.’ She burst from the room, across the hall, shoved her feet into trainers, fumbled at the front door handle and flung her way out. She ran across the road, through the estate and down the steps and she did not stop until she reached the sea defences. She threw herself face down on the beach and dug her fingers into the sand. Her mouth stretched and her jaw ached and the only way she could get her breath was to let it out in a high, keening wail. Over and over. On and on and on under the cold, white, sky.
(Taken from current WIP – first day downstairs after her child’s body is found.)October 22, 2019 at 8:39 pm #6474
Thanks for sharing this, Philippa. What a journey!
And I would just like to add, for the record, that while Philippa was going through all this, and working (and crying) so hard, she has continued to be ever-generous in giving support and encouragement to others. Much appreciated.October 4, 2019 at 2:28 pm #6263
Well done, Athelstone. And thank you, Squidge.September 30, 2019 at 6:03 pm #6218
Thanks, all. I think from now on I won’t reply to form rejections. Certainly I shouldn’t have done it so long after I received them. It was just that tweet making me think I’d been rude! Perhaps she wasn’t talking about form rejections.September 8, 2019 at 2:55 pm #5997
Well done, Kate! That’s great news.September 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm #5988
It was always worse when you first entered the house – the smell that made you want to hold your breath till you’d opened the windows, and the stuffy heat because she wouldn’t let you.
‘She’s asleep, the poor love,’ Thelma picked up her bag. ‘Call me if you need me.’ The door clicked shut behind her.
Mum’s knitting was in her lap, a jumble of colours – lime green, baby blue, red and purple and gold. Her mouth hung open and a rattly snore ended each breath. She was still wearing her specs. New ones. Tortoiseshell. I’d forgotten. ‘They don’t suit her,’ Dad had told me on the phone, ‘but what does it matter? She chose them. She had that kind when I first knew her.’ Her last ones were gold frames, with a zigzag pattern on the side arms.
Three days after that phonecall he was gone. His heart had had enough.
Sometimes I think all our hearts have had enough.
When she woke, I was sitting on the sofa sewing name tapes into her clothes.
‘Hello, Mum. You’ve been having a lovely sleep.’
Not a frown or a smile. A blank. Then – ‘Where’s Alan?’
Normally it was He’ll be back later. Don’t worry. But how could I lie? I took her hand. ‘He died, Mum. Yesterday. Thelma’s been with you and now I’m here.’
Her expression clouded, and her mouth trembled. ‘Those ones out there…’ She pointed to the garden. ‘Like this…’ She made a small waving movement with her fingers. ‘They need help.’
‘I’ve bought you some new clothes, Mum.’ I held up pyjamas. ‘This is a nice colour, isn’t it?’
‘Yes. Blue.’ Perhaps the hint of a smile, a spark of life in her eyes? ‘Where’s Alan?’
‘He died, Mum. You’re going to stay in Abbey House. You’ve been there before on holiday.’
‘Is Alan coming?’
The next day, I took her in, and the day after that I went to see how she’d settled.
She had the wrong glasses on – gold rimmed ones. It was clear she couldn’t see. The lady in the next chair, fast asleep, had a pair of tortoiseshell ones in her lap. Definitely Mum’s.
‘Can I borrow these?’ I whispered, taking them.
When I swapped them, Mum smiled at me. ‘You’re a very nice lady. Where’s Alan?’
Even with the tortoiseshell specs, she’d never see the world the way we did.February 2, 2019 at 4:25 pm #4205
Oh, wow, Philippa! What a journey! And you are still standing – and your book is going to be in the world. It’s so brilliant to read all of this – the lows and the highs. Thank you so much for posting. And a great big huge Well done! You did it!January 31, 2019 at 7:53 pm #4149
Well done! Having read a fair few of your short stories, I must say I’m really looking forward to reading this.
I also echo what Richard said about your perceptive and constructive comments. Always so generous with your help and expertise, Philippa.
Congratulations!December 10, 2018 at 8:45 pm #3399
Congratulations, Stevie!December 9, 2018 at 4:19 pm #3385
(not sure I want to meet the bots though)December 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm #3384
The launch was great, thanks! I enjoyed the reading – luckily I went first, so could then relax. It was great to meet some of the other writers too.
I love meeting other writers…
We need to have a Den get together… In RL, I mean.December 4, 2018 at 5:26 pm #3351
Oh, Elle – just read your flash piece. So sad and beautiful. Congratulations.December 4, 2018 at 5:23 pm #3350
Tomorrow is the launch of the Bath Short Story Award anthology. Excited about reading a page or so from my story, and meeting other winners and shortlisters.November 29, 2018 at 11:20 am #3295
That’s great, Raine. I, too, remember that amazing Now and Then story, particularly the sense of setting and history. Good for you.November 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm #2764October 30, 2018 at 11:11 am #2661
Very interesting blog. I, too, have listened, enthralled, to Craig’s lectures on this, and have read an enormous amount of stuff about structure. I’m struggling rather with it now, at the almost-finished-the-second-draft-of-my-novel-stage. I don’t know if my struggle is because I’ve read too many different models/descriptions and have become confused; or if I haven’t understood what I’ve read; of if I’m trying to squeeze my characters and ideas into something that they won’t fit into. Sometimes I find pondering structure exciting and invigorating. Sometimes it makes me despondent and uncreative. I think I may have been successful with short stories because the arc is so much simpler, easier to see.October 1, 2018 at 9:29 am #1951
Hurray! Well done, Janette. That’s brilliant news.September 27, 2018 at 3:09 pm #1864
‘Failure’, like ‘rejection’ is such an emotive word. Whether or not you feel you’ve failed may depend on what you set out to do. Did you set out to win? Well, I suppose in terms of entering comps, we do set out to win/be placed. But I would not say it’s a failure if that doesn’t happen. Is it failure if you’re not ‘satisfied’ with your story/poem/scene? Well, in a sense, but, to me, failure sounds final. As if there’s nothing more to be done. But there is. Try again. Revise. Write something else. Keep going.
A few years ago I managed to hook an agent for a couple of picture books. He worked with me for a while, (which felt, mostly, very positive) and then tried to sell the books. He didn’t succeed. Did I fail? It was disappointing, but on the whole I regarded it as a hugely positive experience.
On personal taste in writing comps: a story of mine was recently placed in the Bath Short Story Award. It had previously made it to a longlist in another comp, and was not placed at all in another one. Also – a flash piece made it to the shortlist of Bridport one year, having come nowhere the year before. Subjective. How can it not be?
So, keep going, everyone (yes, you too, Bella!) and let’s keep encouraging one another. That’s one of the best things about communities like this one.September 23, 2018 at 6:24 pm #1722
Such a generous thing to do.September 17, 2018 at 5:13 pm #1475
Thanks for posting this, Skylark. I, too, was very sorry to miss your speech, but glad to hear about it and glad it all went well. You continue to be an inspiration to others of us who are taking a LONG time!