Thursday, January 04, 2007

Counselling and decisions

Not two things which really should be combined, at least not in the same day, but there it is. That's the way the biscuit falls sometimes.

Counselling this morning was good, if challenging. We talked (or rather I talked and Kunu listened, with occasional interjections) about Christmas and how to survive it. Answer: do less out of obligation and more from enjoyment, which was what I'd tried to do in fact, with up and down results. We also touched on the whole shit-hot (at least for me) subject of achievement and personal value. Ay, there's the rub, eh? The issue being that the whole reason I get so worked up if things don't go well is that I'm pre-programmed to react to failure in one area as if it means that my whole life and self are completely without any value whatsoever. No wonder I get so bloody depressed - I admit I've probably always known this, but it's the first time I've spoken it aloud to someone else in such seriousness. So I'm stuck in this trap of not feeling fulfilled if I don't do well (in writing, publishing, work, anything, damn it!) and then not feeling I'm really worth it if I do. Ye gods, I'm amazed I'm still functioning at all.

Anyway, the upshot is that Kunu and I are going to look at my childhood in depth to see where it all went haywire and how I can deal with it now. Yes, psychoanalysis rules! - I'm going to be talking to my inner child who probably spends most of her life being shit-scared and wondering what the bloody hell is going on. Still, at least it'll make a change from talking to Michael (query: are there going to be enough seats in Kunu's counselling room for everyone in here?), and I can add an extra person to my personal schizophrenia sheet. Hurrah. And, weirdly, it does make sense to me.

After all that, I popped in to see Gladys and made normal person conversation (if loudly) for a while. Gladys' Christmas was dull, apparently, and she's glad it's back to the usual routine. We spent some time agreeing that 2007 is ridiculous as she'd only just got used to 2006, and smiling at Lord H's paper plane obsession.

Back home - and, oh Lord, another bloody rejection. This time from Snowbooks, who say that "Maloney's Law" is a "fine novel", adding that "in the length of time it's taken for us to get back to you, another publisher must surely have taken it on." Ha bloody ha. Slap my thighs and wait for the punchline. Taking earlier paragraphs into account, this meant that I was at once weeping at the worthlessness of my own existence, and gnashing my teeth and wanting to kill a publisher - any publisher - (or rather rip them limb from agonised limb) at the pure bloody frustration of yet again being told my work is good but that nobody will publish it. I am so bloody pissed off that, if told, you would probably not believe it. Or then again maybe you would.

Isn't it about time that publishers (however charming and adorable in their personal lives - and I am sure they are all angels of course ...) did three things: (a) got their act together to respond to people within a reasonable timescale if only out of common courtesy and if only to say that they haven't got round to your book yet; and (b) understood at least one tenth of the hell they make us go through while we wait - perhaps by having one tooth removed every month of waiting, without anaesthetic and whilst (as the good Alan Rickman once said) having their organs removed with the aid of only a spoon; and (c) stopped putting those hellishly frustrating "consolation honeycomb" statements in any reject letters at all. Under any circumstances. Take note, publishers: a simple "no" is fine. Never tease your victim. Trust us - we know when we're good. At least in those rare moments of confidence, we do. But we don't get those from the trade.

Anyway. Rant over - although the pain remains. And all this has been making me think more deeply along the lines I've been considering for a while now. I've been thinking that when "The Gifting" is finished, edited and proof-read (only 500 words done today, but hell I'm surprised I did any, to be frank ...), I might not put myself in the commercial publishing ring at all, as it's actually beginning to be more grief than I can take. Instead, I might simply ask my fellow directors at Goldenford ( if they'd like to add it to our lists at any stage or, if not, then go down the self-publishing route once more. I certainly get a hell of a lot more enjoyment out of either self-publishing or going via Goldenford than I've ever got from the outside publishing world. And yes, I know that approach would make things extremely difficult with my agent, and no doubt bring us to the end of the road, but to be honest I don't think either of us would be that surprised. It's not, after all, as if I've ever been deemed important enough even to meet him. Another thing that rankles and makes me feel well up in the Z List priority stakes. Hey ho.

Tonight, I don't think I'll be doing very much. The day has drained me enough already so anything more than slumping on the sofa and vegging is beyond me. Again. Talking of which, Lord H and I watched last night's ending episodes of "Torchwood" with mixed feelings. Hell, the storyline was almost good - for once - and I even began to care about some of the people (namely Owen and Ianto. The rest of them, including Cap'n Jack, are just filling). But what the hell was that ridiculous Walt Disney storyline about two men kissing in the middle of a crowded 1940s dance floor??!! Along with the next gay man (or straight woman), I'm more than happy with some good boy-on-boy action, but please make it fit the context! In the real life of the time, they would have probably been jeered out of the hall and stoned to death by all those super-macho soldiers. As Lord H said, no wonder one of the kissing couple died in action the following day - his platoon probably shot him down themselves. And the other thing was: what was that equally stupid and very laughable last-minute King Kong-type creature all about? If I'm planning something really evil in today's modern world, I'd make it a damn sight more subtle that that. Less is more, after all. We're not in the 1950s now, you know. It would, in my opinion, have been far more horrific to have had the charming but creepy old man turn out to be the Personification of All Destruction (or whatever), and then the heroes could have worked to overcome him - as at least he turned up earlier on in the episode, so we knew he was there. Unlike King Kong. Badly done, Team Torchwood. A real cop-out.

That said, I will probably watch the next series - if only because of Owen and Ianto acting everyone else's socks off. So Russell Davies is still laughing all the way to the bank.

Which brings me to:

Today's nice things (oh hell):

1. Counselling (strangely)
2. Thinking about career decisions (bizarrely)
3. Ripping apart Torchwood (satisfyingly).

Anne Brooke


Anonymous said...

Hiya - Sorry I annoyed you. We all have our frustrations, however - you want to try *running* a small publisher, let alone trying to get published! Remember that we're just trying to stay in business, and most publishers go for the books that are not just good but marketable as well. When we buy a book, we have to both love it to pieces, be convinced that we will continue to love it for the next 24 months, be willing to put up £15000 of our own money to support it, be willing to read it 6 times to proofread it, be obessed enough with it to read it and discuss it numerous times to edit it, and be convinced that there are sufficient good things about it to persuade five other people to buy 1500 copies of it. Plus even when a book ticks all the boxes, sometimes we don't have enough money or time to take it on.

I get just as frustrated with readers who say they love new, interesting writing from new, interesting authors - and then we sell 18 copies of a book. Put your money where your mouth is, I want to say!

I meant it though - it is good, and good luck with it x

Anne Brooke said...

But my mouth isn't big enough for £15000, Emma! Though my husband and my mother might disagree of course ...

Apologies if I annoyed you - but I am nothing if not honest. Hey, but what a wild party we'd have if we were ever brave enough to meet up though!



Jackie Luben said...

This is the third time I've tried to post a message and I'm running out of steam. But don't be too hard on the publisher. I always appreciate nice comments on my rejections.

Will probably go the same way as you with my Tainted Tree. I'm submitting it at the moment, but only to rule people out.

re self esteem, it's good to remind yourself of all the things you've achieved, the prizes you've won for poetry and stories, the work that has been published and your educational achievements too. It all matters, even though it's in the past.


Nik Perring said...

I know you're good, Anne.


Anne Brooke said...

And I know you're marvellous, Nik! Oh, and Jackie too (who obviously needs to start eating bananas in order to pick up steam, tee hee. Sorry - in-joke ...)

Thanks, both


Cathy said...

Anne, I'm sure you are a great writer if this blog is anything to go by!

Have you ever seen the book 'Change your Thinking'by Dr Sarah Edelman? Good book on CBT techniques for improving self-esteem etc



Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Cathy - I'll have to look out for that one!



Stephanie Zia said...

At the risk of sounding like a computer spammer - I love this blog!

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Amanda! And at the risk of sounding like a real Class A bottom licker (what? you mean that isn't one of my talents?... ah, surely you jest ...!), yours is pretty cool too!



S Lewis said...

Hi Anne,
Trying to get a book published is such a trying time, but you should feel encouraged that publishers are taking the time to give you comments.
This coming from someone who received, er, at least 100 rejection letters often just a photocopied sheet with my name written in a blank space and generally misspelled.
When I started getting letters with comments, I was pleased that they said anything at all. I used their responses to improve my writing and as I did I found publishers' comments grew more complimentary until finally one did take a chance on me. As it was, that publisher was Snowbooks and I am very much appreciative.
I know at least in part your frustration is because it is such a long and painfully slow process. I hope this a momentary frustration and you won't give up. You may yet persevere, especially if you are getting such positive feedback.
Good luck!
Stacie Lewis

Anne Brooke said...

Only 100, Stacie? Goodness, you've had it easy. Unfortunately to every one of you, there are at least 50 of us.