I’ve had some big downs and big ups over the past few days, and one intriguing piece of literary gossip.
1. Some fool poured beer over the computer keyboard. It spelt the end of my favourite word – but. The letter “B” was one of the casualties. So no buts, batons, B-Specials, breasts or Bren guns. It also threatened a change of ‘ook title to ‘lackwatertown. Not the same ring to it at all.
2. The fool was me. (You saw that coming, didn’t you.) More evidence that going off the drink is bad for you. I’d never have got so spillingly excited if I had maintained a constant level of intake, and not abstained over June.
You got a problem baby, it’s all over now.
You thought you had it made,
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over.
Missing words, missing words.
It’s just missing words, missing words…
3. I now know what to write about my wife in the acknowledgements when the book is published. “To my wife: Thank you for getting me a new keyboard after I drowned the first one.” Just arrived.
4. I contacted a literary agency to follow up on the synopsis and chapters I posted to them about six weeks ago. Horror. They say they have no record of it. I’m aghast. All that time with nothing happening. It explains why no rejection letter has reached me. I ask if they’re sure? They check the newly submitted titles: Black Farm, Black Gold, Black Seed, Oil is Black, etc. It’s true what they say. Black is always in fashion.
5. But, as the highly prestigious writer (and pollyanna) Colin Cameron would say: It just gives you a little more time to hone your writing. Yeah. Thanks for that. Next time I’ll send it recorded delivery. Let this be a lesson to anyone feeling too shy to follow up on the progress of their manuscript.
6. Someone very influential says they want to read my manuscript. Ooer, I had a little shiver. That’s fantastic news. But do they really know how bulky a pile of loose pages can be? Will they like it? It’s wonderful to be asked by someone if they can read your unpublished manuscript. You deliver it, and then you wait. And wait. The suspense is killing. Did they like it or not? Are they stuck? Have they started? Aargh – put me out of my misery. And it’ll be far worse in this case. Will I be able to endure it? I guess I’ll just have to.
7. I met author Paul Nagle the other day. He wrote the international thriller Ironic. As well as buying me some lovely coffee, he gave me an insight into the traps and opportunities that lie ahead for all of us unpublished writers. He’s a very dynamic guy, and his novel is crying out to be transformed into a screenplay. He asked me if I had put the synopsis of Blackwatertown on the blog. I hadn’t. (Fool. Again.) I have now. (A note that may be relevant for later. Though Paul Nagle is Irish, he does not live in my village.)
8. This may not be true. It’s only a rumour. So I feel it’s fine to pass it on. A little known writer by the name of Frederick Forsyth has just arrived in the area. We’re neighbours – give or take a few fields. I may have to drop round to see if he needs a cup of sugar, assuming I can penetrate the security.
You may think it’s good news that the veteran reporter of the Biafran War of Independence/Nigerian Civil War is here. You probably think I should welcome the author of The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War, The Fourth Protocol, (yes, all made into films), and others – with The Cobra coming out this year.
No. I may have to get all one-legged on his ass. There can be only one writer in the village!
At this point my daughter intervened to suggest that I could be the only Irish writer in this (English) village. So no need for any unpleasantness. She also said that while people thought Frederick Forsyth was more famous, they thought I was a better writer. For “people”, read “just her”. And for “thought”, read “is just saying it to shut me up”. So I will.