How Loraine became an agent

Just before lunch today Loraine asked if I had any plans. I was about to tell her about my café lunches, but then decided that I wanted to keep it a secret from everyone…even Loraine. I know it’s silly, but it’s become the only place that is mine. All mine.

So, I just told Loraine that I had no plans, and she asked me to lunch. She wanted to thank me for all the hard work I’ve done, and how I was able to just jump into everything without much direction. I was quite excited, and really chuffed to be appreciated. But I was also very nervous. Loraine and I get along swimmingly, but we’ve never been alone in a casual situation.

I really want to make her proud, and I look up to her like no one I’ve ever worked for. But I was worried because we’ve never really talked about anything personal, and I didn’t know if we could sustain a whole lunch talking about work. Or, I thought, maybe she doesn’t like to talk about work while out? Or what if she only wants to talk about work, and she’s actually got something bad to tell me? Or maybe, I’m just being nervous about nothing, and I’ll get diarrheal of the mouth and ramble on and make her wish that they’d never hired me. Yeah, I was kind of worried.

We crossed through the back garden, and as we walked by LadyBohemia painting a picture of bright yellow daffodils, I hoped that she would come too. But she just kept on sweeping paint across canvas, and we pushed open the gate to go to Loraine’s shiny new BMW Saloon.

We went out to the The Cambustay, a gastro pub type place out in the Ferry. It’s an old manner house turned into a lovely little restaurant. I had chicken, ham and leak pie, and Loraine had some sort of grilled chicken.

While we waited for our meal, we talked about work. How could we not? And I was a bit relieved, because as long as we were talking about work, we didn’t have to make small talk.

But then the food came and the chat died. Desperate to fill silence I asked her how she got involved in the Agency, and as it turns out I’m so glad I asked. A little of me feels bad that I didn’t know how she got involved in the Agency, because…well…she owns it. But once that little bit of embarrassment died down, the story of how she got into publishing turned out to be quite interesting.

Loraine used to be a biology teacher in secondary school, actually. Way back in the day. A friend of hers who worked for a textbook publisher, asked if she would help copyedit a few of the science books. Over time she got more and more work, and was eventually asked to come work for the publishers. She left teaching (which she now claims to not have been very good at anyway) and worked in textbook publishing for several years, then moved on to literary publishing working in nonfiction. She worked her way up and became head of nonfiction for a major publishers. But she said that over time she became more interested in fiction, and wanted more choice as to who she would pick-up. She said that she wanted to work with a larger variety of authors, and have a bit more freedom. She thought about agenting but was afraid her business skills weren’t strong enough.

So, she took a career break and got her Masters in Business focusing her thesis on the legal aspects of publishing. Oh, and while she was studying for her Masters, she didn’t want to lose her contacts in publishing, so she only went down to part time at work.

After graduating she felt she was poised to start her own agency. She started off on her own, and over time took on more and more agents. She’s been an agent now for over fifteen years. She said the last five years has actually been the hardest with all the changes in publishing, which is why the Agency is trying out this new model where everyone is dotted about the country (and Paris). She’s even decided to dismantle the London office to save overhead, and everyone will work from home. I asked what will happen to the AdminAssistant, and Loraine said that now adays even secretaries can work from home. The biggest problem is practical stuff like copiers, files, and when you do need a meeting space, where do you go. In fact, she’s confided in me that she hasn’t yet told the team about her idea, and she’s trying to get all the kinks worked out before she approaches them about it.

Oh, and this is a really cool part. Even though she founded the Agency and it’s kind of the owner, she says that she and all the agents are equal. Like everyone has their own clients, but works together as a team. This is totally obvious in the conference calls, and for all I know this is how every agency works, but as this the first one I’ve ever worked for, so I don’t really know.

In fact, I’m really sorry if my bloggy woggy followers have come to this site to find out more about being an agent, because my knowledge is extremely limited to the minor work I do in my boss’s solarium.

Anyway, it turned out to be a lovely afternoon. We got dessert and talked longer. We talked about my time at MNM, and after a bit I could tell she was edging to ask something. I know how small the publishing world is, so I just said, ‘Go ahead. Say what you want. I’m sure you’ve heard.’ I figured she was either wondering about me living with Goatee, or about NFEditor getting done for fraud. Turns out she was interested in both. It also turns out that she’s had run ins with NFEditor in the past and is over the moon that the cow finally got what’s coming to her. She also knows Goatee and had a few terse words to say about him as well.

 We gossiped about the old MNM gang, which then turned into other literary gossip. Who’s having whose baby, and who’s left publishing to run a literary festival. It was really good crack. By the time we left the restaurant it was nearly four in the afternoon. We got back the office/house and Philip was waiting with a bottle of red opened. She suggested I have a glass, that we should call it a day.

LadyBohemia joined us, and we all talked some more. LadyBohemia told some really wonderful stories about Loraine as a teenager, her rebellion years. Loraine was so embarrassed. I guess you’ll always be your mum’s little girl.

Philip talked about how he and Loraine met. Loraine was Philip’s son’s biology teacher. Philip was recently divorced and ‘the moment I saw her at the parents teachers meeting I knew I would spend the rest of my life with her.’ Awwww. Sweet.

It was getting late, and Philip had put out a bit of antipasta as a light dinner, when I received a text. I was so excited when I heard the beep, but I didn’t want to be rude and start texting in the middle of a conversation. I knew it was Fife, and I wanted to read the text right away, but I kept my cool and left my phone unlooked at until I could find the chance to sneak away to the loo. Much to my disappointment it wasn’t Fife. It was Pete.

Right, so it shouldn’t have been to my disappointment. In fact, I am going to get over this stupid Fife crush, because there is absolutely no way he feels the same way about me. And he’s probably married anyway.

Pete and I are going to St Andrews tomorrow. The whole day, just us. No S and no PoshPhD. Oh, and StAnza the poetry festival is in town, so Pete and I are going to try and catch a few readings while we’re there. I’m actually really looking forward to it. I think the biggest problem Pete and I have is that we’re never alone. So a nice romantic Saturday in a seaside town is just what we need.

Anyway, about three bottles of wine and a few bowls of olives later I staggered home. Pete had texted earlier to say that he and S were out with Posh and CoolTrous. I was going to go meet them, but I really loving laying on the floor watching Big Bang Theory repeats without anyone trying to change the channel, talk over the show, or tell me why television harms the soul. Ahhh, to be alone.

Overall, such a good day.

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