Ding, dong, ding, dong!
So, yes. November. How are you? It only feels like a week or so since you were last here but apparently it’s been an entire year. (Did anyone see who made off with the last twelve months?)
November, my favourite month in many ways, and my least favourite in so many others. Loads of family events on (no fewer than seven birthdays among my friends and family, and that’s just the beginning of it), plenty of travelling all over the country going from the in-laws to the outlaws and back again, an important work event for my beloved, and an important work event for me (luckily on different weekends!) – and before we know it, December will have rolled around.
Time really does go quicker the older you get, I think. As I approach a painful age (one I’d really rather not face up to) I realise that the days are galloping past with gleeful disdain, hurrying my steps. When I was a teenager my mother used to say to me – pained expression turned up to max, of course – that she felt like a sixteen-year-old inside and that it was only like ‘yesterday’ since she was young and sprightly and that I was wasting my one and only youth and would I ever get out of that chair and put that book down and go out and meet people?! I used to think she’d lost her reason. Nobody I knew was more interesting than the people I met in books, and anyway I thought (as we all do when we’re teenagers) that I would feel young and capable forever.
Well, huh. It just goes to show your mama always knows best.
I have aches and pains in places I didn’t know I owned until they started to hurt. I’ve started making ‘old lady noises’ getting into and out of chairs. I have a dodgy knee. I don’t have any grey hair yet, but that’s possibly because my eyesight is failing. I am feeling every second of my age, and November reminds me that I’m getting older, for one of the birthdays I’ll be ‘celebrating’ during this month is my own.
Luckily (I guess?), I’ve relieved myself of one mental burden this month, and that is ‘Emmeline’. I have returned the edits to my agent and I now have everything crossed that she doesn’t hand the book back to me pinched between thumb and forefinger, nose wrinkled, going ‘what on earth is this, then?’ The aim is to get the book good enough – good enough to catch the eye of a publisher, good enough to get a team of acquisitions people excited and enthusiastic, good enough to fall beneath the scalpel of yet another editor – and I can get on board with that. If we were trying to make it perfect, I think my brain would have clocked out a long time ago. I can’t deal with perfect; I can deal with good enough.
And so that means today is the start of a new-old project. I’m going back to basics and revisiting the first book I ever queried Polly with, one which she enjoyed and which she told me was good enough to engage child readers and make them look for other stories by the same author (which is catnip to anyone who writes, let me tell you); it wasn’t good enough for her to sign me, not at that point, but my aim is to bring it up to the same standard as ‘Emmeline.’ I like a challenge.
Essentially, I’m trying to make my agent fall in love with my work all over again. It’s a bit like a marriage, this agent-author relationship. It takes work and enthusiasm and openness and trust on both sides, and it can be dang scary – and one thing you should never do is take it for granted. So, I’m going to take everything I’ve learned from the editing process I’ve already been through, and bring it to bear on Eldritch, and hope to find a story I can polish.
No time like the present. Let’s begin!