This week I have mostly been…
It’s been a busy but lovely week this week, starting off with some mentoring. My current mentee has written a series of science fantasy novels, I’ve been reading the first one and advising on editing etc. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the quality of the writing and the story. Every time I have sat down to read a few pages I’ve been pulled in and spent more time than I intended. So the next step was to decide what to do with it. My advice to said mentee was to try to get an agent on board. Thisis partly because the mentee has written a series of books and an agent has more chance of securing a good deal and a contract for the next books in the series. Submitting direct to a publisher would be fine, but they would likely only take the first book and decide on whether to take the next one based on the sales of the first one. This might still turn out to be the case with an agent, but an agent will bargain on her behalf, secure deals and have good contacts, they’ll know exactly who might want this sort of novel. However, as everyone knows, getting an agent in the first place is a challenge. I feel quite protective over this mentee, I know that in order to find an agent she’s probably going to get rejected quite a lot, and that’s just the name of the game, but I don’t want her to be upset or put off by rejections. This is all part of the mentoring process, as well as helping to get momentum on a writer’s projects, I think giving a much-needed confidence boost and encouragement is half the job. It’s a brilliant job to have and I am really enjoying it. I put a list of agents together for her and advised her to stop trying to write the perfect cover letter or synopsis, stop trying to second guess what they may or may not think, just follow the submission guidelines, and go for it. They can only ever say no thanks. It’s almost as bad as when I submit work myself, I’m checking my emails all the time to see if she’s heard anything! My next mentee starts on Monday and it’s back to poetry with this one. Someone who wants to get their pamphlet together and also wants to get back into a writing habit – a writing boot camp awaits! A nice boot camp though, with more encouragement and less shouting and throwing tyres and stuff about.
The other thing I’ve been doing this week is research for an article about Emily Bronte. I have had the best time researching Emily’s life and the lives of the other Bronte’s and have spent a fortune on books which I have wanted for ages but felt I could justify as ‘research’. Yesterday I drove the two and a half hour journey over to Haworth and spent a pleasant few hours in the parsonage and walking on the moorland around the village, taking photos and enjoying the views. The idea was to walk where Emily would have walked and try to put myself in her place in order to see what her influences were in terms of nature and the outside. Every one knows that Emily loved the moors, but there’s a real connection between her state of mind when out in the wilderness and her creativity. The difference between the wide skies and granite outcrops breaking through the moorland, the freedom and isolation of the moors and the claustrophobic house, the small village and the constraints of sex, class and finance is palpable and it’s understandable that she fretted herself ill when she couldn’t get outside to freedom. I’m fully expecting to write more on the Bronte’s, I have to justify all the books!
By the end of the week, once the article was filed, I was ready to work up another article pitch and then it’s back to the low paid abstracting work, which fills a hole while I wait for other opportunities. This is the week that I submit my small ACE application too, which I am procrastinating over.
I have written no poetry whatsoever and I have submitted no poems either, letting several big competitions drift by without me really fretting about them. I suddenly find myself happy and relaxed, managing my workload and feeling good about it all.
There’s also been a very sad death in my family this week, my uncle passed away after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. I’ve spent ages decrying the use of Facebook and hating it and I am on the platform less and less and using Twitter more and more, but at the point of time when my cousin needed to get information to her cousins, facebook messenger allowed her to do that privately and with dignity, we added other people and cousins in (big family) as we went along and were able to take some of the stress off the family by simply letting people know on her behalf and bringing them into the group. It also gave us a chance to support her and share memories of our uncle and how much he meant to us. This is an odd family sometimes, we are not ones for big displays of love, but what a beautiful thing it is to see cousins reigniting the bond between, suddenly close again, a family suddenly without anything but the very human nature of reaching out and hugging, all be it virtually. There will be time for physical hugs in the future. My uncle was funny, kind, a real magnet at parties. He was a story-teller, a joker and I can’t bear to think how my aunty and my cousins will be without him.
I fully intend on getting back to editing the new manuscript next week, but I’m also going to take full advantage of the bank holiday weekend and the Tour de Yorkshire, which is coming thorugh my village! Have a good one!