Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Probably just a metaphor ...


Things have been busy.... I have been involved in writing camps for young people (an awesome idea for any budding young writers in the family aged between 9 and 14 years) and I went on a wee writing retreat on Waiheke Island and now we are in the throes of trying to sell our house. We have been here quite a while and we rather love it, but 'rational brain' (who has been full of good advice over the years) says it's time to move on. Our children are pretty much big people now and our needs are different. We aren't planning to move far but its probably a good time for a change. Selling a house is quite a demanding thing - there's far too much cleaning for my tastes. And then there's all the other stuff. 'Open homes' start this coming weekend and I guess posts will still be a bit irregular until we have popped out the other end of the process, with or without our sanity intact, as the case may be. You can have fun guessing which it is when we get there :)

Apart from the retreat (a highly recommended activity which can be fitted to any budget, the keys to a successful one being a location which is not your home, and swapping your family for your writing compadres), I have, perhaps understandably, done very little writing over the last few months. My dabbles have involved some editing and revision of a few picture books, and a lot of wrangling for submissions. Those things can take quite a bit of work. I'm quietly pleased at how my brain slips into picture book edit mode quite effortlessly now, but submissions, queries, covering letters, synopses etc... are quite a complex crafty thing. In some respects I feel like each one requires a small subtle re-invention of the wheel. After a while you can get fairly polished at wheel re-inventing, but each submission must still be tailor-made and requires concentration, effort and time. Ironically, after a while, writing a novel feels easier.

I am still subscribing (despite the inherent pains of doing so) to the notion of aiming for 100 rejections this year. I am only just realising (doh) that the pathway to this actually involves 100 submissions. And should (by a law of averages, or miracles, or sod's law or whatever) any responses be positive, then clearly more than 100 submissions are required. So far I've probably achieved around 40 submissions and we are getting near the end of the year (18 rejections and counting - my oldest submission is ten days away from being a year old - there have been two acceptances and some nice feedback). 100 sounds like a full time job (okay, so to a certain extent it's probably just a metaphor), but then there is also life and all the things that that requires of you, including throwing in some paid employment which can be very time hungry. It can be a bit of a challenge to fit the writing in (why retreats become all the more important). Still, if you want to remain in this game fresh content must be continually produced. The tricky part is correctly assessing when to stop submitting (flogging) a particular manuscript and when to get to work on something new. I have absolutely no advice on this except you should keep submitting longer than you think you should and start working on something new earlier than you were planning - yes, Escher would definitely approve of this statement. The longer I remain an author the more I believe following your intuition to be the best rule of thumb. And leaping a lot (of the faith kind) - be bolder than you think you are capable of - that particular philosophy has had more good results than bad over the years. Anyways - I hope to keep in touch with you all more than I have been of late. I'm keen to tell you about some of my more recent bold moves, whether they have paid off or not and what I've learned. Talk soon!