Me and Mickie Proofs
I had an email from the publisher telling me the proofs for ‘Me and Mickie James’ are back. Actually, it said the flat proofs are back. I don’t know exactly what they are but I feel thrilled nevertheless. It will be the first time I have seen a hard copy of ‘Me and Mickie James’.
I don’t have a printer. I work in a paper free environment.
When I say ‘environment’ I mean the space under my stairs in my living room.
I don’t have a workroom.
I was surprised, I remember, when my agent was happy with an email submission. Then she submitted to all the publishers electronically. This is a good thing. Think of all those trees that are still alive.
When I wrote ‘Me and Mickie James’ I wasn’t thinking too much of being published. ‘Writing’ and ‘being published’ are two completely different zones in my head. This is probably a good thing.
This week there was an article in The Guardian about the Frankfurt Book Fair. It’s scary when you see what you are up against. There are thousands of manuscripts on the slush pile, agents who won’t return emails, publishers who won’t read unsolicited manuscripts.
So you do think, why me? Well, I do.
I do wonder how I battered my way through all that.
Before ‘M&MJ’ was accepted at Jonathan Cape there were a number of rejections, of course. But some of these were so nice about me. Felicity, my agent, forwarded them on to me and I did think, ‘wow’, are they talking about me? Because these are people who, supposedly, know what they are talking about.
It spurs you on, because as Alexandra Pringle at Bloomsbury says in the Frankfurt article about being a writer:
“It's mad. It's a horrible job. It doesn't pay well. It's lonely. It's depression-inducing. It's frustrating. There's no fun to be had. But everyone has a drive to be a writer. And everyone thinks they can do it.”
So why do it? I know I would do it whether I was published or not. This seems to be the right path to take. It’s what Doris Lessing said and she’s just won the Nobel Prize.
She also said, “Now there will be flowers and speeches.” And lots of money. At 88, perhaps she doesn’t need it.
Another missive I received this week was my pension review statement. Why don’t they just send you a loaded gun?
Reading between the lines it said I’ve got another 30 years of work left in me and at the end of that I’ll be as broke then as I am now. I can’t afford a house now so I won’t be able to buy one then either. So I’ll have to move immediately into some council run home.
That’s if I’m even still alive.
This morning I was editing ‘The Penguin Variations’. I’m on the last few pages of the first run through. It’s about a man with one leg. In the first draft I hadn’t written how he had lost his leg although I had always intended to.
On the rewrite I could see where this fitted in. Right at the end. So I told the story. It involved an underwater club, a magazine called Aquamarine, a pencil, a hayloft and somebody’s arse.
Writing this made me indescribably happy. I was smiling and skipping around this paper free environment clapping my hands. If the neighbours could see me clapping my hands I didn’t care.
I was in the zone.
I wasn’t bothered.
I was alive.
Ah, so that’s why I write.
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