Friday, 10 February 2012

Nothing to Prove

The first draft of this post was called "The Has-Been's Lament" and anguished in some detail about being a previous Undiscovered Voice at this year's launch party (which happened last night). But after attending the launch, I feel more sanguine. Yes, I am a has-been, a former competition winner returning to the scene of what was (so far) my greatest triumph. Yet, on the other hand, I found the whole evening immensely freeing. I didn't pitch (no, not once) and didn't feel I had to zero in on every editor in the room to push my wares. I was helped by the relative frenzy surrounding the 2012 winners, which caused an outbreak of wandering eye syndrome throughout the room.

Wandering Eye Syndrome (also called Publishing Pupil Dysfunction) is a psychological condition caused by the presence of more covetable writers in a room than the person who is being spoken to. Symptoms of the condition are an inability to maintain eye contact during conversation and an edgy, anxious demeanour. In many cases, sufferers will become more and more agitated until they are forced to break off the conversation with a curt apology, and go off in search of their more publishable quarry.

My, those 2012 winners did seem to be in some demand. It appears that deals are being done and I hope we're going to see an even bigger crop of books published from this year's anthology. Certainly there was great enthusiasm from editors, which always nice to see, even if it was more a case of basking in other's reflected glory. It probably doesn't help that I haven't sent anything out recently, and getting someone excited about a pitch can only go so far – they need cold, hard words to move to the next stage.

But never mind. I have primed my favourite editors (they are, really) and set a deadline to get something out there. If it happens this time, that's good and if it doesn't ... well, at least it's finished and I can write something else! I've been working on the same book for eighteen months and frankly, that's enough for me. The challenge (as always) is to find the enthusiasm to do a good job in the final stages – if I happen to enjoy it too, then that would be a welcome bonus.

I say I have nothing to prove, but I will admit that I still want to get published – just not with the same level of desperation that I had two years ago. I feel more protective of my work now and have the need to find a publisher who will treat it in the same spirit – no longer do I pine for the megabucks auction and a contract from the highest bidder. And I think this is all to the good – ambition has a habit of sliding into delusion otherwise.

Gosh, don't I sound like a wise old bird all of a sudden? Clearly, next week's blog will have to be seriously infantile to balance this out...



  1. It's all meant to be Nick - am sure we'll all end up with a good fit one day! x

  2. Ah Nick, aren't we all in the same boat. I look forward to next week's blog post! :-)