It’s 4.30am. I’ve just made a cup of tea with Robert Roberts luxury tea bags. I’ve broken out the emergency chocolate supply (Carmello, mmm). And I can’t sleep. Because I’m celebrating.
Things have been moving over the past few weeks. Little milestones that I’ve wanted to write about. And a very big milestone too. A massive one in fact, one that I’ve dreamed about for so long I can’t believe it’s actually happened for me. Already.
Mostly I’ve enjoyed the news quietly, telling just my closest family or friends who would have an interest in what I’m trying to do in the publishing world. But now that’s it’s become official, now that the paperwork has been signed and I can stop imagining it and look at the A4 pages that my little printer at home shot out into my hand, I can say it.
I have a literary agent.
(Pausing. To still let it sink in.)
Lads, this is a big deal for someone like little old me. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time. This changes a lot of things for me and it’s no wonder I can’t sleep – I literally want to climb out this BnB window (totally doable, ground floor) and shout YEEEEEEEEHAW!
To give a bit of context, because if you’re not a writer or seeking to get published, then you may not be familiar (or care) about how things work in the literary world. Having an agent does not mean I’ll get published. It doesn’t mean that I can sharpen my inky pen and get practicing my signature for the thousands of books I have to get ready for the ‘signed by Author’ section.
What it does mean is that my chances are now increased. It means that a professional has read my work and liked it enough to take me on as a client and seek to find me a publishing deal. Having an agent is a bit like having a VIP pass. You get to skip the slush pile queue. You still have to get to the door of the publishers and talk your way in.
The publishers may still say no.
But at least there’s a chance.
My last writing update was a very deflated one indeed. The weeks following that were probably some of the lowest I experienced. (Which shows that I probably have a very long way to go, because that wasn’t even proper rejection).
I felt totally lost. I really didn’t know what to do be doing with the script. I couldn’t look at it. I was suffering very bad morning sickness, but I swear, if I hadn’t been enduring pregnancy related problems, those pages would have made me puke anyway.
It took weeks before I could see chinks of light in the long dark writing tunnel.
And in the middle of that is when the agent news came through.
I bought Save the Cat, a book on writing structure on advice of Catherine Ryan Howard and read it quickly. It all made sense to me and within days I was back at the script. I started doing a big of hacking and realising that you can’t really jump into the middle of a 90,000 word script and start flinging your keyboard pick axe, I went back to the start and started reading it again.
In one day I pressed deleted on 15,000 words. This was painful. I’d sat and written and recrafted those words three times over six months, but in an effort to move on and upwards I felt they had to go.
Strangely, when the cull was completed, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.
I felt fresh again. Like I’d had a wardrobe clean out. Or hoovered under the bed.
Knowing, also that this script now really would be going out to publishers made me take a closer look at my writing. Was it really the best I could do? Was that line a bit sloppy? Could I bear to stand up and read this chapter out loud? (That’s a whole different story, especially the brothel scenes, I mean I’m sure my Mam and Dad will be at the launch).
So, within only a few short weeks, I now have a better, redrafted script. I’ve fixed things that were niggling at me that I didn’t want to face. I’ve added another 10,000 words or so and I still have a bit to finish. But I’ve enjoyed going back to my characters again. AND I have an agent.
Isn’t it strange how things can turn around for you sometimes?
What next? Well I’ll keep going to polish the book, to make sure that the next script I send out is truly the best I can make it and not something that I’m just proud to have completed in the first place. I don’t want a prize for taking part, I want to start placing in the race now.
It’ll likely be a few weeks before the agent will be in a position to start working with me properly as she has a number of clients who are busy launching and on submission right now.
But in time, it will come.
And right now, I’m happy to wallow in the glory of what may be ahead.
If it’s rejection, then I am ready to cope with that.
Because, I’ve already had one vote of confidence. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
A few people have asked about the Save the Cat book which is a brilliant guide you can use for structuring your novel or creative work. I’ve linked it above for easy download. It’s an affiliate link, just so you know. (If you click to buy it through here I get a thank you postcard and some peanuts from Amazon.)