Wednesday, December 20, 2006

End of year and publishing blues

God, what a day. Felt reasonably okay when I got in, but rapidly went plunging down into feeling totally depressed and worthless. And yes, I know the year has on the face of it been good, and people have been positive about my last book – but to my mind that has absolutely nothing to do with how up or down I feel. Unfortunately. Hey, it’s an internal thing. Damn it.

So, I struggled to write up yesterday’s minutes – at a speed of approximately one page per hour and a half, as a lot of that time I spent surfing, staring at the screen and generally feeling tearful. Some secretary I am, eh?...

And the thoughts going through my head were: (a) hey, another year nearly done and still “A Dangerous Man” (yes, it is the novel I really, really want to be published, even though I know the rest are fine – please don’t confront me on this or get cross, it’s just the way it is …) is stuck in non-book form. In spite of promises to the contrary. I’m wavering between being incredibly upset and angry with Flame Books about it and just incredibly depressed and resigned – the “oh well, that’s just my luck – even my publishers don’t want to print it” mental scenario; (b) I can’t even get my latest poetry collection published, in spite of winning/being placed in awards for it and the stuff it contains, and I shall no doubt have to self-publish it next year once again, as the small press I’ve sent it to won’t bother replying to me even though it was they who requested it in the first place; (c) rage (yes, that is the right word) at the fact that 90% of the other writers I know all seem to have publication dates for their latest novels coming out of their ears. And of course they’re all with hugely well-known and mainstream “ah darling, aren’t you brilliant? Let me throw you a party” publishers. And I know that these are all good and wonderful people, with novels which will last the test of time and win loads of awards, but please, please don’t tell me about them again until they are actually out. I just can’t bear the pain and am liable to print a picture of your novel off, tear it to little pieces and burn it. Though of course I will buy it in the long run. Probably. But hey give me a break now, people ...; (d) In any case, why can’t my publisher or agent even bear to see me? I am fed up with people telling me what wonderful people their publishers/agents/editors are and what excellent lunches they give when I haven’t even met mine. Any of them. And I’ve been promised lunch twice by my current agent, and been stood up by him once at another event too. With a fairly okay reason, but even so ... I’m beginning to assume that I’m simply not good enough actually to meet anyone face-to-face, and I’ll never be good enough. (e) Even at work, I can’t escape the agony of it all – some bloody punter from the Language Centre has produced his first novel (or rather novella – it’s only 100 pages) and the publicity for it is emblazoned over the intranet. Every time I see it, I’m giving it the good old two fingers. Naturally, being the sweet and generous person I am (ha!), I have emailed my congratulations, but have also written to the internal PR people to ask why the fuck they told me they wouldn’t advertise people’s novels as it was “too commercial”. Just because the Language Centre boyo is with HarperCollins (oh, dahlings, how super …) and I’m with Goldenford, eh? Bloody tight-arse PR losers. (f) Finally how much I hate Christmas and the New Year – I have ten whole days to face when there’s absolutely no chance of getting any good news in my email or by phone from any writing contact about any of my work. And to be honest the thought that this time when I go home my agent/publisher/editor might surely have contacted me – even just to say they’re still there and working on things – is the one thing that keeps me going from day to day.

So right now, I feel I just want to curl up on the bed, have a really long tearful session and give up being a writer entirely. So my advice to anyone wanting to publish a book via anyone apart from themselves is much like the good old advice to those about to get married: Don’t. It’s not bloody worth it.

In spite of this, I did have one or two nice points in the day - the Pro Vice-Chancellor emailed to thank me for my help on various committees throughout the year. Obviously the words most likely to appear on my gravestone are: Good secretary; failed author. Bollocks, eh? It's not what I want. Oh, and Julia from UniSWriters popped in to give me a Christmas present - which I shall save until the big day. So that was nice. And I finally got the first draft of those ruddy minutes done. Hu-bloody-rrah.

Today’s nice things:

1. Apart from some of the above, sweet FA, to be frank.

Anne Brooke


Irene Black said...

Anne, I envy your ability to spit it all out at the keyboard. I'm far too inhibited. That's what makes you such a good writer. Keep blogging!



Anne Brooke said...

But, on the other hand, I'm probably not inhibited enough, Irene!! - I'll never be a publicist's dream. Obviously. Lots of psychodrama tonight though ...



Anonymous said...

Hey Anne

Sorry to hear you being so down.

Firstly, you're a fantastic writer, you're funny and I so love your style of writing.

Secondly, sack your publisher and get another one. Okay I have no idea how difficult that may be, but it doesn't stop you from getting pleasure thinking about the conversation you could have.

Thirdly, just write in your blog that a leading publisher called you for hush hush secret talks over a fabulous lunch. Who needs to know the truth?

Fourthly, it's Christmas, forget the lot of them. Pour yourself a large one, sit back, chill out and dream about the day that Pink Champagne is being filmed and they are asking you to cast the people in the parts.

. . . And then Katie FForde is phoning you to ask you how you managed that.

I often daydream about what I would like and it doesn't hurt anyone.

Have a fab Christmas and a brilliant New Year.

Sue x x

Anne Brooke said...

Fantastic, Sue - I love it! Thank you sooooo much. You're a star