Early Jan. 2011
How many of us personalise our writing?
In my day job, as a buyer for an engineering company, I spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds a day on products, handle £50,000+ accounts. It is one big negotiation; strictly business. I go to work to pay the bills, look after my family, fund my lifestyle, be able to write. It’s reasonably enjoyable, but the fact is that if I won the lottery, I probably wouldn’t turn up for work in the morning. But I would still write.
Maybe because it’s a hobby, something I enjoy (most of the time!), something I choose to indulge instead of washing the kitchen floor, doing the ironing, spending hours preparing a tasty meal (rather than rustling up a quick pasta dish). A ‘no brainer’ of a choice you might say – but everything has to be fit in some time. Actually, when I sit at the computer, even the dog lays down and breaths a huge sigh.
As writers we bare our soul. Some might say there is a piece of us in everything we write, whether it is in style, content, experience even. I used to do some freelance in my spare time, writing nonfiction articles. I loved the thrill of coming up with ideas to query, receiving a commission, working to a deadline. But I was writing about something specific for in order to meet an Editor’s set requirements. With fiction I find it more difficult to detach myself. And that was my first mistake.
After much correspondence, I had to turn the first interested Agent down. It went against the grain. This was an industry that I wasn’t familiar with and I felt lucky enough to get some interest in my work. Quite simply, I just wasn’t sure how to do it.
The literary world is subjective, some might say fickle. I may need this contact in the future; maybe my current agreement wouldn’t work out, possibly even with for my next book. So I considered what I would do in my ‘real’ job and sent a very polite email – thanking him for his interest, explaining that, in the absence of receiving a contract from him (which was apparently in the post), I had signed with another Agent.
I literally cringed when the reply came through the following day, envisioning bridges burning in my mind. Surprisingly, he was very magnanimous, apologising for my not receiving his contract, said that he respected my decision and wished me all the best for the future.
My first lesson learnt. Whilst my book may be personal to me, it is business to an Agent/Publishing House, a product from which they are looking to earn. It was now time for me to think of my writing in a business context.
Then I received my first set of editorial notes…
Jane Isaac is very much a Newbie, she doesn’t even have a website yet (one day…) and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. Join her on the rocky road from pen to publication – hopefully!