After blogging this morning, I got online and did a job search. There’s a few things going down in London, and I guess I have more experience than I had before starting this job, but at the moment I know of people who have been in publishing for decades and are looking for a job. I can’t imagine that me — someone with a six month placement and four months experience — will beat out a seasoned editor. I’m seriously fucked.
I could start sending out queries again (it’s how I got the job I’m in), but is that the best use of my time? Filling in job applications and sending out letters can be a full time job, should I be using that energy to try and get money for the Agency, or even building up my own client list — if that’s even possible?
I went back into the office in a daze, all the possibilities drowning in my head, nothing seeming too promising. Loraine was surprised to see me return, and she emphasized that I should take the day off, ‘You’ve already done so much, and you deserve a bit of time to process all this,’ she said.
I had to be upfront, ‘I am about to be out of a job. I’ve got to do something.’
Loraine actually looked quite surprised, then she said, ‘I’m absolutely positive you’ll find something else. In just a few months you’ve taken a book that was about to be pulped, and turned it into a cult hit. As soon as I make the announcement that [the Agency] is closing, you’ll get snapped up.’
I was gobsmacked that she’d noticed Conspiracy’s sales, and I didn’t (and still don’t) have her confidence in my future job prospects, so I said, ‘If [Conspiracy]’s sales are up, why are you shutting down. If we can do it with one author, we can do it with more.’
We’d been standing up, so Loraine asked me to sit down. She explained, ‘It’s not that simple. [London] and [Paris] bring in enough to support themselves, but it’s all the little things. Your salary, [the otherLondonagent]’s salary, theLondonoffice. Even if I got rid of all those extra expenses, these days it’s up to the agent to foot the bill for client marketing, PR, travel on book tours. And that’s not even counting the time and energy it takes to get an author publication ready. I was working a 60 hour week, acting as an editor and an agent. All the things the publishers used to do — and the writers used to do — now fall on us. It is not a viable business any longer. And, personally, I can’t manage it any longer.’
By the time she finished I was sucking back the tears. I wanted to cry but for the stupidest reasons. If Loraine couldn’t hack being an agent — I’d never make it. I used to hold a career in publishing on a pedestal, and through the internship it had been sorely knocked down. But Loraine was now doing even more than that, she was digging a hole in the back garden and burying it. If Loraine, a savvy business woman, couldn’t survive the change in the industry — due to a few bad decisions — I’d never make it. But what would I do? I know I’m really young, but being told that my chosen profession was about to be non-existent, was like getting kicked in the gut.
Loraine could tell I was upset, so she said, ‘I’m not happy about this, but I’ve had a month…or actually months…to think about this. At this point, the army is at the door and the Calvary isn’t coming. Surrender is my only option.’
Bleary eyed, I asked, ‘What if I bring in more money? You said we’ve got a month before we go public with the announcement. What if I brought in enough money to cover my salary, [OtherLondon]’s salary, and all those incidentals that drag the Agency down? Could we keep going?’
Loraine said that if I did that it would be a miracle, but even if a miracle did occur, she still doesn’t know if she’d keep the Agency open. ‘However’, she added, ‘you’ve done an amazing job. So, if you bring in any money within the next month, I’ll give you a part of the commission.’
I laughed and said, ‘You know that it takes quite a while for royalties to come in. So I wouldn’t likely bring in any money this month.’
‘See you’d make a terrific agent,’ she said. ‘How about this. Any royalties, advances, anything that can be attributed to your work — and I’ll be fair about it — from the time you started until we shut down, I’ll give you 10% of the commission.’
’10 percent of 12 percent. That’s hardly anything, and I’m about to be unemployed,’ I said, now dry-eyed. ‘How about half.’
Loraine agreed and said she’d draw-up the paperwork. Then she said that I should still take the day off. Think about my options and just take some time to think. Plus, she had some dealers coming around to look at LadyBohemia’s paintings, so the house probably wouldn’t be a good work environment anyway.
I wasn’t ready to go back to the office, so I went for a stroll in the city centre. I wandered through the Overgate, looking in shops but never really looking. After a couple of passes, I went out into the city, across all the road works, and out on to the path that follows theTay. As I walked, I rang HarryPotter.
After making the deal with Loraine about the commission I was in better spirits, but as soon as HP answered I launched into the situation — without even waiting for him to say ‘hello’ — and suddenly it was all too much. I was crying, absolutely in tears…which he’s heard 100 times.
He told me to calm down and start from the beginning. I said that Loraine was shutting the Agency and, essentially, I’m freaking out because I won’t have a job. He suggested that he talk to the new editor at MNM, and see if they had anything for me, but I didn’t even let him finish that sentence. Going back to MNM would be worse that being unemployed. Okay, may be not, but it’s a last resort.
HarryPotter and I talked for ages. I walked down the Tay and up past Magdalene Green. Then I walked up the world’s steepest hill (trying to hide the fact I was panting because I’m so out of shape from HarryPotter), and then over to BalgayPark. I sat in the park for a while and talked for even longer.
I then realised that HarryPotter had been on the phone with me for over two hours, which is kind of taking liberties since he should be at work, so I said ‘good bye’ and rang off. But I still didn’t feel like going home, so I walked through the cemetery in the park and up to the Observatory. I went into the planetarium and to this lovely balcony they have that looks out over Dundee and the river. I stayed there until the caretaker — or maybe he’s an astronomer, I don’t know — said they were shutting up and I needed to leave.
It was time for me to wander home. I had mixed emotions. Loraine’s given me an opportunity to make a little extra money, and I want to prove that we can bring in enough money to keep the Agency open. But I was also terrified and annoyed. All I want is a stable job, and to not have to worry. Is that too much to ask?
I came into the flat to find a chilled bottle of Champaign and two glasses. Fife was darting about, ‘We’ve got something to celebrate,’ he said.
Dubious I froze waiting for the news.
‘My literary fiction’s been picked up,’ he said.
Right, now before you judge me, let me judge myself. I now realise that the appropriate response would have been, ‘Congratulations. Well done. Let’s celebrate.’ Yes, I can see that now. But here’s what happened instead…
‘What? You just finished it. How’d it get picked up?’ I asked.
‘My agent edited the first couple of chapters and pushed it as a partial,’ he said.
‘What about the other book?’ I asked.
‘I never finish the rewrites on those things. [His agent] finished that off as well. So that’ll be on the shelves for Christmas, and the other one will be ready for next summer’s reading. She [his agent] thinks they can get it on one of those national book club things. Great news!’ And then he pops the cork to the Champaign.
I was seeing red. How dare he let his poor over worked agent do all his work for him? He can edit, he can rewrite. Why the fuck is she supposed to sort out his shit? And to rewrite the first two chapters of a book that’s in mega first draft stage, while also rewriting the previous book of his. Well, it’s not acceptable. He shouldn’t have relied on his agent to do that.
Then I looked over and saw the unsigned divorce papers sitting on the sofa where I’d left them last night. And I lost my shit.
‘Why haven’t you signed those yet?’ I said as he poured Champaign into a glass.
He brushed me off with a ‘Not the right time, not everything is settled.’
‘Well when is the right time?’ I asked.
He put down the glass of Champaign and said, ‘Now is not the right time. What’s your problem?’
I went into a tirade about how he’s not serious about our relationship, and he’s not thinking about our future. And he leaves everything up to everyone else to sort, and he’s just a big child.
That last comment did not go down well, especially as it’s an insult that his wife uses on him regularly.
Swiped his hand across the table sending the champagne glasses flying across the room and breaking on the wall. ‘I am not in the mood for this shit,’ he yelled. ‘It’s bad enough to have [Helen] riding me, but not you too. If I don’t want to sign the fucking divorce papers, then I’m not going to sign them. It’s not your fucking problem.’
He stormed into the bedroom, but instead of letting it go, I followed him. I was sparing for a fight and he took the bait. ‘No, it is my fucking problem!’ I yelled.
‘I am living with a fucking married man. It is my fucking business, and as long as you’re in my house…’
Once again, not a good thing to say, as I believe he’s had that one thrown about by the ex-wife in the past as well.
He stood up very straight and his shoulders went back. It looked like he’d grown several inches. Then he bent down and got right into my face and said lowly, ‘I thought this was our house. I guess I was…’
Then he stood up again and yelled, ‘Fucking wrong.’ And he punched the wall right behind my head. I flinched, he got his keys off the dresser, and left the flat.
I’m now mad at him for over reacting; I’m mad at myself for taking my frustrations out on him, and I’m mad at Loraine for giving up. Right now. I’m mad at the world. It’s a gorgeous sunny summer evening, I’m going for another walk where I can be mad at everyone I pass.