Even though today is Mother’s Day, I need to give credit where credit is due and send a shout out to to my dad, as well as my mum. As neither of them use social media it is, of course, a shout out they will never read, but I hope they already know how important they are. I also shout out to them regularly at home whenever I need their services.
First of all, with my dad, it’s not all nuggets of wisdom. Just the other night, I came home looking rather different, and he responding by staring and asking,
“You get your hair done?”
I was wearing my hair curly. My hair is naturally curly and genetically gifted to me by LOW AND BEHOLD NO ONE OTHER THAN MY OWN FATHER WHO USED TO SPORT A SIMILAR RINGLET FRO. What was different about my head was my face. I was wearing glasses for the first time in my twenty-six years of life.
Today, Dad did redeem himself (I also just wrote data instead of Dad and TOO MUCH SCIENCE).
“Just keep it in your arsenal,” he said.
We’re in the lounge room. He’s putting on his good trackpants and runners, about to go grocery shopping with Mum and I’m crying. I’m trying to hold it in, though, because, although my Dad loves me dearly, he’s also a factory worker, and, with alongside swing shifts do come mood swings. I hate to burden his sleep-deprived soul with my problems, but I can’t help it, because he’s a man that speaks my language. This morning, he didn’t disappoint. Those six words were exactly what I needed to hear.
What I’d read to Dad was a rejection email from an industry professional who I’d contacted about taking on my book. What made it so hard to read was the fact that it wasn’t an ordinary no. It was a no sandwiched in between some quite insane praise for my characterisation, voice, humour, beautiful descriptive passages and analogies, and ability to add a poignancy to the Australian landscape. No joke. Those are another person’s words, not mine. I want to put those good bits here, because we all know there are too many times in life where we are told we simply aren’t good enough. And I was so relieved to know that my Aussie writing style wasn’t being interpreted as flat-out bogan sentimentality.
But, for a debut, this individual found it too long and a bit of a mashup between commercial (more plot-driven) and literary (more character driven) fiction—this means that the audience isn’t clear, which isn’t a good thing for a debut author with no… audience.
So they said no to this book, but… wait for it… they said they thought I had terrific potential and that they want to read anything I write in the future.
After reading that to Dad, I think I fell to floor—pushed down by the weight of wanting to live up to this potential (I bloody hate that word, but it is a necessary, isn’t it?). In my mind, all I’m thinking about is what if I’m not funny enough this second time? What if I’m not good enough?
Luckily, Dad was there to reassure me once more.
“Mmmm, very, very good,” he said.
“Well, this one just needs to be shorter and a bit more meatier, doesn’t it?” called Mum from the kitchen (no doubt using her new measuring spoons gifted from her favourite, and only, daughter, for Mother’s Day). “Now, would you like us to pick up another packet of Sippah Straws for you from the supermarket?”
“Yes please,” said I.
My mum and dad then resumed their conversation with the dog, and left.
After they left I felt so lucky to have parents that (for all of their issyews) are far more practical, and far less analytical, than me (and far out are they funny). They’ve got a rain gauge in the backyard and Dad once took great pride in maintaining a very consistent pH in our pool, but that’s as science as they get. So, instead of dividing the email into % positive, % negative, they told me how significant it was that I’d made a genuine contact in such a cut-throat industry, and encouraged me to keep on going
I’m keeping on and I’m about 24, 000 words into the first draft of my new piece. I’m aiming for 80,000-90, 000 words (right in that word limit that publishers like for a debut). And oh boy, is there a plot. So much so, that I have to be careful not to let slip my little twists. The main characters voice hasn’t fully come to me yet—I’m cringing as I’m writing that because I feel really wanky—but I’m getting close.
So, what am I meant to do with these rather nice descriptive passages and humorous chunks from the last piece? I don’t want to let them go and I don’t want to wedge them in to the current piece I’m writing. I think I’ll take Dad’s advice, “Just keep it in your arsenal.” I’m still waiting to hear back from a few more agents, but whatever the outcome my first novel is something I can come back to properly in the future. Maybe one day I’ll even have my own audience who will happily read it purely for my writing style 🙂 What I’ll also be keeping in my arsenal is a well-written thank you for this industry pro who took the time to give me that feedback. Very few people do that, and, if I ever find success, I would love to meet her and say cheers.
Before I go, I’d also like to apologise for slacking off with the posting. I did lose my writing mojo there for a bit. AND I’m also back on Tinder, so the left hand has been very busy (swiping). I tell you, there ain’t no day on Tinder quite like Mother’s Day.
“Come around to me house, don’t worry I’m a good bloke, though, I just took Mum down to Richmond to feed the ducks and out for dinner.”
Just disgraceful. I’ll stick to my imaginary men for now. I say for now, because you can meet the loveliest of people in the most ordinary of ways.
And that’s where I’ll leave it.