My Manuscript is My Asset

It is a little over a year now that I have been at my current job heading up the communications department at a large UK charity.  I started on a six month contract and must confess I didn’t think I would be here this long.  This time last year, I had just finished the first draft of my first book Thicker Than Water after taking four months off work and was chock full of high hopes.

The book was with an independent editor and by the time my second month at my new job was complete the editor’s report had come back and the first word was: “Wow”. That gave me a huge boost – I wasn’t such a bad writer after all.  There were edits to be done of course, but I was confident that by the time my six months at the charity was up, an agent and a publishing deal would be in the bag and I would be cashing in my first pay cheque as a writer.

However, the months have gone by and despite being agentless it has not been for the want of hustling.  In the past year the book and I have done the following:

  • One professional edit from The Literary Consultancy (Thank you Angela Clarke). Excellent advice on overwriting at the beginning and re-writes duly done
  • Three competitions entered and not even a shortlisting
  • Two agents met at Winchester Writers’ Festival.  Lots of positive and exciting comments and feedback.  Re-writes done as requested and one lovely rejection saying it was a ‘near miss’. Despite asking for a rewrite the other agent didn’t even bother replying to my re-submit. Grrr.
  • Six other agents submitted to.  Two rejections saying that they liked the story but didn’t like my writing enough.  One standard no.  Three no responses

If you had asked me this time last year what I would do if a year on there was no sign of an agent let along a publishing deal and my contract at the charity had turned into a permanent job, I would say that it was the universe telling me to put down the pen. However I am surprisingly reluctant to switch off the laptop and find something else to occupy my weekends like pottery or metal detecting.  Why?  I have no idea.

It might be that despite no agents so far agreeing with me, I really think my book is good. I have in fact been buoyed up by the quality of the rejections – is that odd? I feel there is life in the old book yet.

I have done more editing and re-writing and have found two more competitions to enter. I have also drawn up a spreadsheet of six more agents who I feel might like my book, so they are going to get an email from me in their submissions inbox in the next month or two.

I have come to see my manuscript as an asset.  It cost me in both time and money to create it and whilst I didn’t go into this to get my money back, I feel it does have some value.  I have the completed manuscript, several synopsis of varying lengths, the first three chapters, 50 pages, 3000 words all edited for maximum impact and I shouldn’t just abandon all that yet. After such an investment I would be silly not to capitalise upon my asset – what do I have to lose?





Found: One Writing Mojo

Or Living Like a Normal Person for a While

The tree was up, the box under the stairs was filled with tempting treats which had to wait until Christmas for us to enjoy and I still had far too many presents stashed in hiding places around the house for me yet to wrap. That was probably the last time I did any proper writing. That’s nearly a month.  

Since then I have been living like a normal person. Loafing about, plenty of time to do the shopping and the washing, playing board games with my daughters, going for walks. Not only doing all this stuff but doing it guilt-free. No nagging voice whispering maliciously: “You lazy cow. Want to get published? You’re never going to if you waste your time walking outside.” That jolly little voice accompanies me most places. But like most of us, it seems to have had an extended festive break. It’s been lovely. I haven’t missed her.

As I was getting ready for work this morning and making a pot of tea I realised that all the nasty roasting tins from yesterday’s dinner were not festering on the side filled with a noxious mix of water and washing up liquid, left there under the spurious premise of ‘soaking’. They usually sit there until I get home from work on Monday evening I’m ashamed to say (not really) But last night I washed them up and put them away. Amazing. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Usually I am itching to get the girls to bed, watching the minutes tick by so I can sit and plan my writing tasks for the week endeavouring to make maximum use of those half hour train journeys (like this one)

So what’s happened? Why am I a sitting here on the train, hunched over my iPad scribbling away (can you scribble on an iPad? I’m not sure)? I really don’t know but it just sort of happened. Over the last three or four days the voice has returned from its Christmas holidays but the break has done it good. It is feeling refreshed and relaxed and has been encouraging rather than demanding. I have found ideas for blogs popping into my head, the plan for my second novel has resurfaced and I can feel the tingle of excitement, I stumbled upon a couple of competitions which I knew would be good for my completed first novel. On Friday’s train journey I wrote out my writing plan for the year with what I would like to accomplish and how I am going to do this. This all seemed to flow into me quite naturally without any prompting from the evil voice – does this mean I am a writer?