The post arrived this morning and contained two lovely surprises, hurrah! The first being a packet filled with sweets, chocolates and pens from PD Publishing and a note saying it was a late Christmas gift wishing me all the best for the year. Thank you very much indeed, Linda & Barb - a lovely thought! And it's really cheered me up - hey, I must be a real writer; my publisher buys me gifts ... A lesson also in how to get the best out of your writer which I suspect both Flame and my agent might do well to learn from ... Because I now feel very much that PD are working with me, rather than against or at me, and I'm all fired up to give them the best book I possibly can. What better writer management can there be?
The other nice package in the post was the Open Day form from Glyndebourne, which we have now filled in and posted straight back. We even get to do a singing option from "Carmen", double hurrah! Already, I am reaching for the cigarettes and attempting to look sultry, ho ho.
And I've made a few confident decisions about The Gifting - which I honestly think have been encouraged purely by today's chocolates surprise. I would never have had the confidence for this otherwise, I can tell you.
Firstly, I have edited John's report on it and removed the sarcastic comments, irrelevant details and hurtful - rather than helpful - remarks. I have also added in one or two supportive and encouraging phrases at the end which I believe he, as an agent, should have included. Nothing too over-the-top - I'm not a fool - but just enough to give a decent writer (ie me) the chance to regroup and tackle the mountain. Interestingly, what I found myself left with when I'd completed this assignment was a fairly exciting (and of course challenging) set of steps to take to make the novel into what I believe it could be. It makes me want to do it. It gives me the tools to do so.
The fact does remain however that I shouldn't have had to take this step to get to a good working report. I should simply have had a good working report sent to me, by my agent, without the need for this stage in the process. In the edits I do for others, both at Goldenford and Mighty Erudite Press, I like to think I produce good working reports that people can use to change things and I give the necessary encouragement that will allow them where necessary to improve their novels or poetry collections without falling into despair. That is what I believe my job to be. That is what I understand by professionalism. Naturally, I'm only human and there are times I fall short of that standard - for which I'm sorry - but it's the approach to editing I try to offer and the one I expect in return.
That done, I have sent the revised report back to John, asking him to check that he approves of the content and if he wishes anything else to be added. I've also asked for facts, communicated in a reasonable fashion, that I can work with, rather than "digs" I can't. After all, I've had more than enough of undermining sarcasm from my previous agent (She Who Must Remain Nameless ...) and I don't wish to go through that experience again. As John seems, in all other respects, to be a nice human being who's thought of as being a genuine "Good Egg", I'm hoping this is just a one-off, as I do think that in the not-too-distant future we can still do decent business together. I work best if the stick is laid down and the carrot positioned just out of reach. And, hey, sending me some chocolates is bloody good too!
For the remainder of today, I have therefore been working on The Gifting. I have rewritten the prologue, lengthening it and adding within it a hell of a lot more action and tension. I have also begun (a) writing scenes for two other major voices to broaden the focus, (b) turning Simon from a 1st person voice to a 3rd person voice and balancing his scenes with the others, (c) upping the plot twists, (d) considering further characters for the journey and (e) dramatically increasing the number of direct battle scenes. Bloody hell, I think that's enough to be getting on with, don't you?
So tonight, I'm planning to watch the video of last week's "Sense and Sensibility" before Part Three comes upon me tomorrow. And naturally, I will be glued to "Primeval" with no interruptions allowed. There's nothing like dino-bunnies to get you going on a Saturday night.
Today's nice things:
1. Gifts from PD Publishing
2. Feeling confident enough to turn an unhelpful encounter into something I believe I can work with and, I hope, stating my case firmly but fairly
3. TV - as ever!