How I’ve dreamed of writing that first sentence (without the ‘ish’)! And now I can finally type the words and share my exciting news…ish.
Last week, a literary agent contacted me to ask if I could get in touch re my ‘funny’ and ‘witty’ head lice story. Jubilations! A real agent from a real literary agency wanted me to give him a call. Cripes!
Once the appointment was made, I spent the weekend fretting over what he might say. I feared he’d made an embarrassing mistake and had contacted the wrong Victoria Twigg. I expected an apologetic email to say, ‘Terribly sorry, Victoria. Hope I haven’t built your hopes up monumentally; as high as the moon and as deep as your soul. I meant to contact Victoria Twig, with the one ‘g’. The woman with the really funny and witty head lice story. No hard feelings…’
I then wondered whether he was a rogue agent (not in a Russian spy way); a charlatan praying on gullible clueless picture book writers who may be tempted to part with £10,000 in exchange for representation.
What I found hard to believe was that he was genuinely interested in my work. I had made the sift and had roused someone’s interest enough to be contacted at 11.30pm on a Friday night. Underneath the predictable and tiresome self-doubt, lies a twinkle of something; a microscope sparkle atop a minute particle of dust which had been spotted by someone wearing just the right spectacles. Actually, it was the agent’s reader who first saw my sparkle, so a big thank you to him for shoving my manuscript under the agent’s nose.
About that manuscript. It’s not a picture book. It’s not even a story. It’s a comedy sketch apparently. And a comedy sketch that won’t translate into foreign markets and deals with a subject that some countries, particularly America, prefer not to discuss. Sssshh, American kids don’t have lice, just our dirty European ones.
Therefore, whilst the writing was promising, the story needs to be ripped up and popped in my blue recycling bag. Well, that’s a huge blow. I’ve been tinkering with my lice for about a year. Now I’ve been advised to let them go; move on; no one cares for my nits.
Joining the ripped up pages, will be the majority of my other stories, for they don’t make the grade either. Some are too moral and finger-pointy, some will not translate internationally and the rest are just disgusting and/or creepy. I must remember I am writing for young children and not simply for my own amusement.
Having an agent who vets your ideas is a wonderful privilege, and comes with plenty of chances to add another layer of skin to your bones. I’m a bit thin-skinned, so I’m appreciating the ‘this idea is rubbish’ working relationship.
And I mean that. I have found someone who wants to hear my ideas and will tell me when they’re rotten, which most have been so far.
So, I’ve gone from relentless agent hunting to catching a good’un, but with that victory comes a new bag of problems. I now have to live up to another person’s expectations. I need to deliver the cakes; super-fantastical cakes; with original ingredients or at least a new topping. That adds pressure to a person.
This is just the next stage of my writing voyage though. I’ve finally left the harbour behind and now I need to drop anchor for a good think. I can’t afford to mess up such an opportunity with mediocre stories. My ideas must compete with every picture book writer topping up the shelves in Waterstones.
Can I do it? Yeeees? Yes, I can. And I will. Which means I best stop blogging and get on with my day-dreaming/meditation. I’m off to catch some big story fish. Adieu, adieu!