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Writing for work, applying for jobs, flying the kite of your CV is a difficult and nervous time.  A path familiar to almost all, the pains and the pitfalls well known, and better documented by innumerable others. 

Yet, here I am writing about the continual struggle to hook a bite.  Applying for any job involves time and effort on behalf of the applicant, hope and dreams of possible success attached to each and every application…

And, we get so few replies, so few acknowledgments of rejection, silence is the preferred option by so many:  if you don’t hear from us…

I understand, I even sympathise to a point. 

But, without deluded optimists sending scripts, the industry would die. 

Disillusion, disenchantment and complete apathy can quickly take root, and you wonder how many truly great novels have died under the frustration of silence?   

A one line, “thanks, but no thanks…” shouldn’t be too hard to send, should it? 

I think I get about one reply in four, and that’s poor by any standard. 

That so many don’t’ send acknowledgements, or indeed rejections, and in any industry, any walk of life, is poor, rude even.  

So, anyway, here I am, reading biographies, looking at websites, debating if we are a suitable match, my book – your agency, and preparing to send off the next tranche of earnest applications… 

Wish me luck!

Self – Indulgence

Writing is a self-indulgent, ego pandering, pastime.  You can write whatever you want, create whatever scenario your imagination can conjure – except sometimes you can’t…

It’s often said that ‘it’s not the critic that counts…’ and there is a genuine truth in that.  But, without feedback, without a reaction to what you’ve typed, what are you doing it for?  Without external validation, you could sit all day typing ‘all work and no play makes jack a dull boy’ and nobody would know – or indeed care!   

So, your fragile bloom sends out scripts for review.  You are lucky, you have people you trust, folk who will be honest, so that flattery, if given, will be meaningful, but, also, that if criticised, that it too will have merit.

Flattery is always nice, to be told that someone enjoyed your scribbles, that it took them on an enjoyable page-turning adventure is the best you can hope for.  But, when you fail, when the quality isn’t what it should be, then you need to be honest enough to genuinely accept it! 

The story in my head doesn’t always make it into print – at times I miss out sections, assume I’ve made myself clear, so, when it’s pointed out that the ‘flow’ just isn’t there, then I need to correct the errors – shoot the script writer, not the critic!

Hobby

As hobbies go this one is kind of consuming. 

Talk to people who play golf, and once a week (maybe) they trundle out and hit a little ball with expensive sticks; or indeed talk to people who follow football, and once a week they sit and worship at the altar of whatever team they follow…

And then there’s me. 

Every day. 

Every day, without fail or respite, I’m typing away. 

Pushing a story forward. 

But doing this ‘every day’!!! 

I’m either very committed, or very much in need of committal – and at times, I’m not too sure which one is correct! 

I cannot even absentmindedly stare into space – because even when looking out of the window, drool dripping down my chin, I’m thinking about plot lines, rewriting existing passages…

And to what end?

Why am I doing it?

I’m plodding along for two reasons, the main and overriding one being that I’m happy typing away, telling tall tales, seeing where my imagination can take me, and the secondary, is that at some point in the future, ‘others’ will share my enjoyment.

So, until the ‘others’ arrive, I’ll keep plodding along, typing words of peril and words of adventure.

After all, everyone needs a hobby…

Who?

Who is Amy?

She’s Tank Girl meets Lisbeth Salander.

Well that was the intent.

She was intended to have the irreverence and anarchy of Tank Girl, with the vulnerability and grit of Lisbeth Salander, all be it in a quasi steampunk setting.

Did she become the intended hybrid, or did she develop into something else, something more? I’m not attempting to claim any equivalence (or endorsement) with these two female icons, but I am attempting to point people towards pop-culture reference points, from which they can start to create an understanding of young Miss Grace.

I wanted to create a no nonsense strong female lead, a character that wasn’t all heaving bosom, fainting and being rescued by square jawed men.

So, that is the genesis of young Miss Amy Grace, maybe it’s a good and reliable steer, maybe I missed the target by miles – guess you’ll have to spend the £19.99 for the limited hardback folio edition to see if I achieved my aim…

Name Dropping..!

I was reading the blog from another writer – do I name drop? If I do, will it mean anything, after all I was only reading their blog, it’s not as if I’d be saying something like ‘George, oh, yes me and George (Clooney) are hip’ – which we’re not, never met the bloke, his wife, or indeed any of his entourage, never even met a look-a-like…

Anyway, the blog I was reading, the writer was trying to explain the attachment they had to their characters, the connection that was somehow almost real, something very personal, akin to a friendship, and it struck a very real chord with me. I got where they were coming from, be their character a despicable axe murderer with a penchant for dressing in the skin of their victims, or a lifesaving saviour for mankind, the attachment is still the same.

I’ve been typing about young Miss Amy Grace for a few years now, and I’ve put her through some near intolerable situations, she has suffered some unspeakable pains, and all at my hand. I’ve typed darkness that has been beyond black, yet she has emerged time and again, and continued to move forward, never been stopped, never beaten.

If I met her would I like her, would she indeed like me, or would she cut off my hands so that she could stop the suffering that I keep piling upon her tiny frame? Academic, I know because she’s only a character in my imagination, a person who exists on page and paper, but sometimes I sit and I wonder what would Amy do…?

When (eventually) she becomes part of someone else’s imagination, when somebody else gets to read about her trials tribulations, her loves and her losses, will I feel jealous, that a relationship that was for so long just the two of us, is now a shared story? Or, will I be the proud parent, watching the little bicycle, without its stabilisers, trundle off down the lane?

I hope I feel the latter, I hope that when others encounter young Amy Grace, that they too feel warmth towards her, sympathy for her plight, and genuine hope that lasting happiness is just around the corner.

She is my character, I like her, and I hope when you meet her, that you like her too, because she has earnt it, she genuinely has!

August Update

So, it’s been a while.  The gap between updates unusually long.  In my defence, I have been away to a part of the world (Northumberland) void of 4G/3G or indeed any sort of ‘G’.  Mobile communications with the world, as normally enjoyed, denied.  Not that I’d been idle while away, I hadn’t.  We’ve moved forward to some 60,000 words, taken the tale of Amy (part 2) into a very dark place, witnessed some abject cruelty, and some redemption. 

People ask what are you typing, I tell them ‘a book’, they say great ‘what’s it about?’, I tell them, and then I am asked if there was any kind of connection between my state of mind, and my writing about suffering; am I writing from experience, or indeed from a desire to inflict such pain? 

Flip, that’s a weird one.   My answer was, and remains, that I have an imagination, nothing more, nothing less.  I imagine scenarios, and I describe them how I see them, not how I want them to be, or indeed out of some repressed memory bank – it is my imagination and nothing more.  

So, Amy has moved forward, the story has progressed, we have discussed (but not answered) the morality of prostitution, and we have explored the desires of majority of people for that simple life of happiness, the Eliza Dolittle (of Pygmalion fame) “room somewhere, far away from the cold night air…”

So, I haven’t been idle, the project is still live, we are moving forward, and copies will be sent to the usual suspects for review/critique in due course.

Oh, and I’ve had two rejections this week….  Bugger. 

Pick Me…

The Gordian Knot, the unique selling point…

The ‘pick me’ enigma…

It’s a difficult thing to do (or its definitely one I’m struggling with).

How do you make your CV survive the 30-second scan, and how do you transfer that survival ability onto your synopsis?

How do you stand out from the hundreds of other hopeful scripts earnestly being promoted by their authors?

For whatever reason we have received positive reviews from the women who’ve read the book – is it a ‘woman’s’ book (whatever that is), I don’t know. It was never written with a specific audience in mind – although it is definitely an ‘Adult’ story, outside of that I think the parameters are very broad.

Yes, I think Amy Grace is a good character, yes I think that ‘Thomas Payne’ is a good story, but how do I make a good pitch?

We have a young Irish Woman who is a strong female character – that’s got to tick a box?

We have, with this tale, a very sympathetic story exploring the lasting legacy that sexual assault leaves.

We explore the emotional trauma that continues long after the bruises have faded from view; we travel in some desolate shoes, some depths of despair…

But, and it is a big BUT, but, we find strength, find courage, find inner power to overcome, to refuse to drowned by the enormity of the event.

We also have a rip roaring Victorian adventure, we have Amy in the Sudan, The North West Frontier and the Wild West. We have a flying machine that allows her to move from place to place, adventure to adventure.

She fights bad people, she takes on near impossible odds, she channels the Irish Warrior Priestess of Badb (Celtic mythology anyone?), she punches way above her (slight) weight – but we don’t have cartoon violence, we have realism, we have injuries, and we suffer for our victories.

But it’s not a book of doom and gloom. We have light moments, we have humour, we have hope.

We do have a very bad guy. We have Thomas Payne, we have a fully rounded bad guy, but even as evil as he can be (and he can) we also have a man of depth and feeling (all be it only about what he wants) who avoids the moustache twirling caricature of the villain, and presents the reader with a man capable of love and loss.

Is the above a good pitch?

I suppose until someone takes a punt and prints the book I’ll be forever refining and correcting my sales pitch, and forever looking to cleave that knot in two!

Oh, well, back to writing the story, to telling the tale.

Giz A Job!

Its job application time again.

Sitting down reading biographies, looking at what the agent specialises in, debating, cogitating, gambling – will they like my submission? 

Will they like it enough to call me back, to write back with an offer, or to write back with a polite rejection? 

Much like the empty room into which I’m currently speaking, so too is the whole application process a shot into the darkness. 

Although it is a shot, with an echo, that takes about eight weeks to reply! 

So, four ‘lucky’ prospective agents selected, we have pinged off our synopsis, chapters one-three and our snappy pitch as to why a book about a young woman who is viciously attacked and who wakes up in a brothel will sell, will make them money…    

Travelling

So, here we are, again, plodding inexorably onwards, with our heroine Amy, towards a destination not yet confirmed (although we have written the final two pages). 

We’ve taken her through some abhorrent situations. Predicaments that would have kept the best of us sullen and broken.  She has been wounded, abused, beaten to within an inch of her young life, but never bettered, never conquered. 

We are now walking through the recovery phase from victim to survivor, with the heavy dark shadow of Thomas Payne being removed, she is moving forwards into the light. 

But, it being an adventure story, a tale of peril danger and adversity, some new challenge must appear. 

Enter stage left the “Colonel” and his human sacrifices, his love of black magic, his worship of the golden idol…  

Does this all join together with the fairies? 

Yeah it does – so hold on tight it’s going to be a heck of a ride ! 

Reviews (2.5)

And the reviews for [2.5] are back….

Broadly positive, a few spelling mistakes, some phrasing questions, but, the most important critique is that the story was enjoyed.

Yeah, go me!

So, telling tall tales #101; have a good story – achieved.

I need to review some gender neutral/ambiguity that I was attempting. But, that I will re-write, and hopefully clarify what I was attempting to portray.

We are currently running with version [2.8], so this will cascade out around September, with a view to have the whole project finished before year end.

I’m back in the saddle, got the bit between my teeth, the mojo is sparking and the absurdity of my imagination is running full and free.

Magic is a wonderful freedom to create a story around, and now I can see why it is such a popular genre – maybe I’ll write horror stories next? Can’t see me doing ‘coming of age’ wizard stories, but hey, mortgages are what mortgages are, and if it pays the bills…

But, first we need to finish our tale with young Amy, take her to an ending that is worthy of her journey; and magic or no magic, mojo, or no mojo, creating something worthy of her trials and tribulations, her pain and her suffering is the current challenge, the current focus.