Monday, 30 November 2009


So, I met with an agent last week. Note the lack of fanfare, although I did my best to work myself up about it beforehand. We sat down for an hour and a half, discussed Back from the Dead in detail and she thoroughly resisted the urge to sign me up until she's seen another draft. Which is fair comment, because let me tell you kids, I have a lot of work to do.

On the upside: my voice, setting, characters and humour are all great. The downside? My plot stinks. Well, not stinks perhaps, but it certainly smells like the wet washing that you left in the machine all week. A musty odour redolent of over-complex plotting and lack of strong character motivation. Plenty of room for improvement, let us say.

I got a little maudlin the day after, as is my want, thinking about the scale of the problem ahead of me, about the amount of writing that needed to be done, about the impossibility of restructuring the current plot. I hate to waste words - I could never do NaNoWriMo because it would be like chucking about 30,000 words straight into a skip - and the idea of losing so much of what I had worked at so hard was not a pleasant one. Little by little though, things started to change - a plot idea here, a character note there - and I began to realise that changing the novel was possible. More than that, I realised that I wanted to see this book through to the end - however many rewrites that will be down the line. I'm quite fortunate that I've stayed in the world of the book all this year, first revising it and then starting a sequel, so I feel that I'm really invested in the characters and can keep working with them, wherever the plot takes us.

I have heard agents talk of writers who refuse to accept editorial advice - these authors should be self-publishing. Seriously, what is the point of putting yourself through the publishing mill if you have that level of self-confidence in your work? Conversely I also hear from authors about agents who don't give editorial advice. I only can hope these agents charge a smaller percentage (but I bet they don't).

As for me, I figured that I'm going to be writing something over the next year or so - why shouldn't I be re-writing a book that I care about and that has a good chance of being published? I'll just cross the literary tightrope the way I always have: keep putting one word in front of another and try not to look down.


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