I know I shouldn’t be blogging from work, but I am so, so, very, very tired, and it’s a glorious spring day, and even with the windows cracked in the office I just can’t stay awake. I’m hoping this will wake me up a bit and help me focus.
Pete came to bed about 5am last night, and he actually came to bed. He stripped down to nothing and spooned me through the night. I really don’t know what’s going on with this ‘relationship’. If I can even call it that.
I was hoping we could spend lunch together, so I went home and he was still sleeping. After much prodding he finally got up, but by then I had to go back to work. He said that he was just going to muck about the house today and I’ll see him when I get home tonight.
Right, onto work stuff.
Yesterday’s conference call was fab. Before the meeting Loraine said that she changed her mind about my diary blogs into books idea. That perhaps it wasn’t a bad idea, just not an idea for her. There was someone on the team who may be interested. Fab!
On the call were four agents (one in Manchester, one in Paris and two inLondon), the admin assistant and the Paris intern. It was such an enthusiastic meeting, and the ideas, plans and updates really got me buzzing. (Listen to me, I’m speaking corporate talk with words like ‘buzzing’. I shall stop that now.) Finally it was my turn, and I mentioned the few ideas Loraine hadn’t shot down the day before, as well as the blog idea. The agent in Manchester (interesting note here, the entire agency is all women, except for the agent in Manchester. Why is it again that the literary world is full of women, but more men are published? Just don’t get it.), anyway, the agent in Manchester liked the blog idea and asked me to send him some links.
I sent him my links directly after the conference call, and was quite chuffed that it all went down so smoothly. (On a side note, a lot of the blogs I read aren’t on my blogroll because I’ve gotten into a bad habit of just saving them as a favourite on my browser. I really, really, really need to remember to update my blogroll.) ManchesterAgent rang me by the end of the day, and essentially he said that he wasn’t interested in any of the blogs I’d sent him. He said the he liked the idea, quite a lot, but he wanted blogs with a higher profile, a stronger voice, and an unusual premise. He wasn’t as worried about the narrative arch, as long as they had these other things. But he said to keep an eye out, because it was a good idea all the same.
Also, Loraine and I had an interesting debate yesterday on the concept of what was a ‘new author’. The Scottish Book Trust announced the recipients of their New Writers Awards. Loraine asked me to have a look at them, then asked what I thought. Each writer’s profile is on the SBT website with a profile and an excerpt of their writing. I read through the writing, and, without a doubt, it’s all quite good. They seem to be a talented lot. Then I read through their bios, and I found something interesting. Next, I looked at the bios from last year’s winners, and the year before that as well, and I found the same thing across the board.
Almost all of the winners – in my opinion – aren’t ‘new writers’. They have all won awards, have short stories published, and some even work for publishers or have agents. In fact, to apply for the award you have to have someone in the literary field recommend you. These people – in my opinion – aren’t ‘new writers’. New writers are people who are plugging away at their craft, but they either can’t afford or don’t have the time to study for a Master’s in creative writing. They haven’t won a slew of awards, writing residencies or bursaries. And they most certainly don’t work for agents or publishers. New writers are the plumbers, teachers, housewives…just people. People who write because they love to write, and it is these people that I feel would best benefit from a New Writer’s Award. These are the people that need mentoring and the opportunity to take a break from their day job to work on their novel, collection of short stories or poems.
I said just this to Loraine.
Her response was quite different than mine. She argued that if someone wants to be a writer, they submit to competition after competition, until they get better and they beginning winning writing prizes. They save money for that Masters. They work hard to get noticed by an agent. They work for literary organisations and wait tables at night to make ends meet. If you want to be a writer you do these things, not just because a writer loves the craft, but they want to make a career of all that goes with writing. People are ‘new writers’ UNTIL they get their first book deal. ‘Then’, she said, ‘they are professional writers, and that’s when it gets even harder.’
This is all fine and true. In fact, I used to harbour a desire to be a novelist, but working in the industry has pushed that out of me. Or actually, a better way of putting it is, I now realise I don’t have the desire to be a novelist, or else I’d write everyday. If I wanted to be a novelist, I wouldn’t be working here, I’d be writing my novel. (Theoretically, I can do both, and a lot of people are publishers and writers. But personally I don’t have the desire or the energy to do both.)
However, as true as Loraine’s statement is, I just wonder if we (the industry) are missing out on great talent, because these new writer type awards aren’t open to those who silently plug away. I don’t know, it’s all a big debate. In fact, I wouldn’t mind hearing your opinion on the matter.
Well, I’m more awake now, and ready to focus, so I should go back to work. Oh, and one thing that happened today that has made me quite happy. Loraine wants me to meet this new author whose books aren’t selling. She wants me to talk to him about doing a cheep book tour (ie, readings in his area that we don’t have to pay for) and him starting a blog. He lives out in Fife, and I’m supposed to meet him at his house on Friday. I’m quite looking forward to it actually, should be a good day out.
Right, done with blogging and back to the job.