JULY, PART TWO: ON PLAYING THE LONG GAME.
Over a year ago I attended a writing course aptly titled “The Inspiration Project,” the brainchild of Carmel Harrington, Hazel Gaynor and Catherine Ryan Howard. Safe to say, it changed forever how I think about myself as a writer as well as giving me focus and belief in my writing project. My new years resolution this year was to get my memoir written and while I’ve hit a bump in the road with the life changing event that losing my beautiful mum has been, I am still determined to get there. Read on to see how myself and my two fellow writers, Casey King and Clare Daly are getting on.
For details of this years Inspiration project click here.
We are well into the summer of ’19 now, and our three writers are staying cool, playing the long game, pressing ‘Send’, oh, and hanging out with Idris Elba. Just the usual month in the life of a writer then! Over to you, ladies!
I talk a good talk about the ‘long game’, but when it comes to an agent showing interest in my work, the ‘short game’ shrink wraps me into a state of panic. As I sit here in week ten of agents are reading my full manuscript (I wish I wasn’t counting), I’ve had to take stock as the writing factory has essentially ceased trading and this is NOT GOOD.
Thanks to a Youtube video (this is what happens when I’m not writing) from Actualized.org, called Be Fucking Patient! I’ve had an epiphany or rather listened to one. The lack of patience over something not moving fast enough, leads to total self-sabotage. You become desperate for news and berate yourself for not working at a quick enough pace to make those dreams come true.
Part of the lesson is questioning why you are in such a rush. It’s been a tough few years for many reasons, mainly losing my mother to cancer in 2015, and to be honest I desperately need some good stuff to happen. But the truth is the world doesn’t see your work through the lens you do. It doesn’t carry that baggage. So you have to accept that no book deal or contract ever came anyone’s way because they’ve had a bad run. So how do you deal with that desperation?
You accept that you’re going to work for years to achieve your goal – as long as it takes. I’ve been writing seven years (not long compared to many). It may take another seven to get traditionally published, maybe more. Does that change things? No, of course not. In looking to the long game, it’s important to also look back. If someone had told me in 2012 where I’d be right now, I’d have seen it for the achievement it is and acknowledge what it’s taken me to get here, the challenges life has thrown at me and the fact that I’m still here writing.
And my panic lessens, and I go so far as to wish the agents as much time as they each need to reach a verdict on my detective novel. Because I’ll be fine.
This is the long game.
I headed to London last week for my agent’s swanky party at the Royal Over-Seas League, to celebrate ten years in business. The beaming sun set the perfect backdrop for the garden party and Kate had organised an array of stars to attend, Idris Elba, Kit Harrington, Elton John, Jason Mamoa, Tom Hardy – in the form of life-sized cardboard cut-outs. I had many ‘pinch me’ moments and while it was certainly surreal, it was fantastic to meet fellow authors.
So, was it a good idea to wear heels to a garden party? No! I stepped onto the well-hydrated lawn, sank, then contributed to its irrigation while feeling like I was standing on a balance ball. But fear not, I brought flats. I snuck behind a bush to discretely change into them and throw a lick of polish on a toenail that had escaped some earlier varnishing. As I carefully organised myself, the speeches began, near the bush I was behind. Oops! I took a deep breath, stealthily returned, threw my heels behind Elton John, grabbed a glass of Prosecco for the toast, and was ready for action when my agent grabbed me to introduce me to relevant people who may have a hand in the future success of my novel.
Kate’s speech included talks on being good enough to believe you can achieve what you want to – which is true no matter what stage you’re at. Literary Agent Lina Langlee was there, Justin Nash, Robbie Guillory, along with Film and TV Rights Agent, Stephen Russell.
The stars didn’t get abandoned on the lawn either, as rumour has it that Idris Elba stowed away on an Aer Lingus flight to Cork and may have followed me home. He is currently lying low as, owing to partying and some turbulence, he got a little bent out of shape and needs to straighten up. Photos can be found at #KateNash10 or Sharon Dempsey’s blog DempseyMail.
Casey King @letstalkcrime
Anyone who’s suffered a major loss will know it is temporarily paralysing. However, sometimes someone comes along, at just the right time, to lift you back onto your feet. So it was for me this month, as I spoke with writer in residence Denyse Woods about my WIP memoir, at our library’s monthly writing workshop. She suggested I try to get an agent.
As I listened to her I couldn’t but think to myself, what notions. However, another part of me was reminded of a writer at Wexford Literary Festival who said, if you think you’ve written a good story, why would you not want someone to read it? With the fire in my belly stoked, I googled, ‘query letters.’
I’m sure there are some among you who remember what it was like to write an actual letter on pen and paper? To look at the blank page and begin by addressing it, hopeful a reply would come quickly to that very address. You may remember the butterflies you felt as you sealed the envelope and that moment of uncertainty as you held onto your letter, dangling it in the mouth of the letter-box, unsure whether you should let it drop.
As I typed and deleted my query letter many times I was reminded of those real letters, and while this was an email, the feelings of hope, mixed with a large dollop of uncertainty, were the same, as I pondered how best to word my request and hovered over the send button. In fact, if Denyse hadn’t so kindly offered to check it over, I might very well be currently still hesitating.
However, I did send it, and now I wait, hopeful that someone will believe, as I do, that mine is a story worth reading.
2 thoughts on “July Inspiration Diaries. Part two.”
Thanks for the reference, ‘Be F*cking Patient!’ applies to me too. I’ve only been writing a couple of years and am sometimes frustrated, but when I look back I can see how far I’ve come and can see some steady progress.
I totally agree. I too think I’ve learned so much with each passing year and this quest to be published is yet another lesson. Hope your patience pays off.