Monday, 23 July 2012

What I'm up to

It occurs to me that I have mostly used this blog so far to talk generally about writing, why I write and the history of my writing, rather than giving any actual updates as to what I’m up to at the moment. I’m not sure whether you’re actually interested in such details, but in an effort to convince both you and myself that I am not completely lazy and inactive, I thought I’d give a little update as to how things currently stand.

Earlier this month I finished the first draft of a 60,000-word short novel called Forced Feeling, set in the year 1912 and concerning the relationship that develops between a suffragette and the doctor who is supervising her forced feeding in prison. This was written in a very great rush, only started in late May, as a private project, a birthday present for a close friend of mine. However, said friend has given a positive response and encouraged me to try and do it properly, so we’ll see... I may give it a proper go, although it would need a lot of work to bring it up to scratch.

Aside from that, my most recent completed novel is a 97,000-word piece called The Wicket in the Rec, which tells the story of a cricket match suspended on the day the Second World War broke out finally being played to a finish fifty years later, on Christmas Day in 1989. I completed the first draft of that in November last year and have been working on improving it ever since, and since the start of this year have also been submitting synopses and sample chapters to various agents and, for a change, publishers.

I haven’t tried publishers directly for a while, but after having no joy with agents I decided to have a go at submitting it to a company called Myriad Editions, based in Brighton. I chose them as they seemed the only Sussex-based published of novels that fitted, with an interest in putting out locally-related works (Wicket is set in West Sussex, in fact in my home village of Clapham).

Myriad turned the novel down, but very nicely – I had the below rejection letter from them, one of the most encouraging I’ve had for a while. I take heart from it as I’ve learned enough over the years to know that agents and publishers aren’t going to waste their time saying nice things to you if they think you’re entirely useless – it only encourages further submissions from the hopeless, and they have enough of those to be getting through as it is.

“Polished and engaging” isn’t bad, don’t you think...?

So Wicket has been turned down by everyone so far, but I’m not losing heart just yet. Today I’ve sent off my latest submission for it, to an American publisher called Atticus Books, who were recommended to me by my friend Tim. Having read a couple of their novels I think Wicket would actually be a good fit for them – despite its cricketing theme, you don’t actually need to know anything about the game to enjoy the story, it’s simply the catalyst which sets events in motion and brings the characters together.

So I shall wait and see what happens with that, while looking through the latest Yearbook to choose further agents and publishers to submit Wicket to in the event of a rejection. I also have two other possible novels brewing in my head – one a serious, contemporary fiction piece, the other a science-fiction effort called Time Engine which is sort of a cross between Doctor Who and Sharpe and I suspect might be good fun to write. Both of these are projects I have previously started and then abandoned, but I do make a habit of recycling ideas, mainly because I have so few half-decent ones that I can’t afford to waste them when they come along!

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