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Tuesday, 2 October 2012


‘Concretized’ by New York Literary Agency

Like a friendless lottery winner or Pinocchio or Katie Holmes, I learnt the hard way to – ‘be careful what you wish for.’

After five years bashing the keyboard in a lonely why-am-I-doing-this delirium, I landed contracts for two completed novels with a New York agency. I was able to read,
          “…we love your work. It translates brilliantly to both U.S and U.K audiences   and should have great international appeal.”
                                                Rights Unlimited - Thursday Sept 1st 2005

Having eaten my quota of bitter tasting rejections, I was not willing to believe that this was just the guff they must send out when trying to get an author on the contractual hook. My favourite reject letter was one closely typed, filling two sheets of A4, from a U.K agent, explaining how busy they were!

For weeks I found it hard to utter a sentence which did not bump over the phrase “…my New York agent…” even though New York is a place I only know from Bruce Willis movies.

In a world where bankers think they are the point of commerce and supermarkets crack the whip over food producers; where insurance companies stand between you and your healer – in other words where the middle men have become pre-eminent – why did I think I would be treated even with civility? Bankers and supermarkets may get between you and your life but agencies get between an artist and their soul. The meanest of them can blot out the sun.

Between contact and contract I was treated like a princess. For two months post contract I was treated like the bastard offspring of minor dignitary who needed to be kept sweet. Lists were changed round during Winter 2005/06 and I was put with a slippery, fishy guy. This whiny individual could not pronounce my name without sounding like someone stuck a pin in his bum on the last syllable. From then on I was treated like the leprous peasant that no one would even kick because the effort was too great.

The twelve months in contact and contract with this agency has been the only year since I started regarding myself as a writer where I achieved and created nothing.

All antennae should have been twitching when Mr. Pin-in-arse announced he wanted to “concretize” our relationship. I should have responded,
“You want to solidify our new acquaintance in a toxic restrictive immovable grey substance that would cause any vibrant organic creative living thing to suffocate, sink and die?”
Instead I said,
“Is that a real word?”

Waiting not hours or days but weeks for a simple e-mail response I would then crucify myself doing re-writes that in turn went unacknowledged for further weeks. After a demoralising, debilitating, depressing wasted year I serendipitously encountered Kitty Fitzgerald, U.K author, playwright and publisher who’d had an identical experience. She walked away. After a brief but violent internal conflict I did too.

The immediate result was that I was able to write again, the books listed down the right hand column of my blog plus dozens of poems. Though I am shy about my page poetry and they generally don’t see the light of day, one does appear in the 2012 Winners Anthology of the International Bridport Poetry Prize. My performance poetry I regularly perform up and down the country in varied venues from theatres to comedy clubs and also at the last three Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. And now I have a blog – my weekly word cream cake. The income is patchy but I am no longer CONCRETIZED.
And so to the blog flog – available in traditional format or as an e-book,

The Companion Contract
(go to My Books - right hand column of blog - click on the Amazon link)

Sample -
Chpt. 1.

No V.A.T.

‘I sold my accidentally preserved virginity at seventeen to senior equity partner Robert Avery.  The arrangement was made by my disabled neighbour’s divorced daughter’s gay hair stylist’s boss - Richard Le Bon; Ricki to his mates.  Even in Ricki’s indiscriminate world, there were no other young female heterosexuals in the market for such a deal.  His flat fee for arranging the transaction was a mere £700.  If you work out the hours he’d spent developing the idea, co-ordinating meetings and sorting things out, it was a lot less per hour than solicitor’s fees. There was no V.A.T.’

That was the way Jennifer remembered it.

Next week’s blog may be entitled
Martyrs Are Better Dead.
or not.

And hopefully someone who knows about the horrors of IT will have helped me fix the profile box by then. I dunno what I did to it but it broke.

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