Missing Words

Sometimes losing letters works well.

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.

Click on the pic for Missing Words.

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…

(The Selecter – I saw them at the Rotterdam.)

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 It’s wonderful to be asked by someone if they can read your unpublished manuscript.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.



Filed under art, In the village, My Writing

11 responses to “Missing Words

  1. Thank you for the laugh. Very nicely done. I once listened to a recording of a customer service call for a computer company… the name of the company escapes me just now. In any event, at one point in the call, the technical service consultant told the caller to press ‘P’ on the keyboard – to which the caller asked “press what?” The tech responded “‘P’ on the keyboard.” The caller became audibly irritated and stated in no uncertain terms that he would NOT pee on his keyboard…. ahhh, good times.

  2. Good one, Conservative Lie!

    Roo – it is a funny piece you’ve done here but also puts you in a wonderful context – a bumbly writer with an understanding and appreciative wife and pretty keen daughter who lives just a few fields away from a famous (not better) writer. I love thinking the village live goes on. I think that’s why my brother has loved Ireland best of anyplace he has visited and has vowed to take us all back – in my dreams. He loved Grandmother McMahon and he loved being in a cottage in Clare. I must say, he held a special part in her heart as well.

  3. Sorry, Roo, I just have to rip off that Dog baking for a friend’s blog – but will attribute per protocol – OK?

  4. May the force be with you.

  5. Worry Not! Georges Perec Once Wrote A Whole Novel Without Ever Using The Letter “e”!
    And I have just noticed I wrote this comment without having to use the letter you mentioned once!

  6. Ah have the same problem with m “V” key and now I’m using an old clunker. Actually I have a good friend who is a ‘reader’. Make sure your manuscript is spell checked, neatly packaged and a short but concise cover letter on it. Make sure your reader is grabbed in the first 2 pages otherwise they won’t go on. Good that you have an influential person going over it before you resubmit. Even better that you’re not self publishing which apparently is death if you want a publisher to take your manuscript. Just sayin’ Funny peace and an empathic family. You’re a lucky man.

  7. blackwatertown

    Ben Milne (via FB) commiserates: Ugger and ollocks!

  8. I love this entry. And you do give some great practical advice for those of us in the “querying” stage of things.

    I shall post a synopsis on my ABOUT MY BOOK page, but that is all. So thanks for that tip too!


  9. 網路攝影機

    Thanks a million for this. I empathise.

  10. Rejection Notices:Collection of Comments. 1) We are impressed with the way the pages are numbered, however. 2) All your sentences have verbs and your adjectives describe things, however. 3) Very artful in using capital letters for proper nouns, however. 4) Your mother must be very proud, however. 5) Seems you have talent in the writing field. Perhaps you can deliver newspapers, work as a forest ranger or down at the paper mill or pencil factory, however. 6) We were impressed with the quality of the package in which you sent your manuscript, however. 7) Perhaps you should try your hand at other genres like writing grocery lists. Got lots more but don’t want to invade your blog.

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