It’s back again, this weary time of the year when sense and progress have packed up and (unlike me) gone off on holiday.
It started with a feeling of lethargy, brought on no doubt by the heat wave. Then I began having ludicrous dreams, one of which involved Alan Titchmarsh making a pass at me at the opening of his new garden centre featuring plastic dinosaurs and live hippos. Unlike the majority of ‘women of a certain age’ (which I take to be mine) I find him unattractive; although I do accept he fronts a good garden programme – I just wish he’d stick to what he knows, i.e. gardening.
I think the state of my brain (it feels like mashed potato and I hope it’s only temporary) has a lot to do with my birthday falling at the end of this month. I never celebrate it and would rather not have such a thing as a birthday. It must be very hard for friends and relatives to know what to do as I get tetchy at the mention of it – however, it does save them money. It’s always seemed to me a ludicrous concept, celebrating living an extra year as if you’d done something to deserve it; though, of course, the older I get, the more it seems like an achievement.
I dislike Christmas too because it gets in the way of things I want to do. My August phobia might even go as far back as pre-birth since, after days in labour, my mother absolutely refused to go into hospital and almost died, taking me with her. She was, thankfully, overruled and I was born by Caesarean section. Following our release from hospital, I cried so much the midwife advised her to put me at the bottom of the garden* (in my pram) and forget about me. There’s post-war child care for you.
* Perhaps this is the A.T. link.
Anyway, I had another dream a couple of nights ago. The main character in my novel, Tribes, died. Yes, he just up and died part way through the book. I was devastated because it meant, of course, that the novel was no more; and could never be rewritten. What did the dream mean? Was it a portent of some literary disaster? I do occasionally have dreams which seem to connect with what’s about to happen. So it turned out.
A few weeks ago I was inspired (not sure that’s the right word) to submit a short sample of my next book to Curtis Brown, Agents. Being perverse is also a symptom of my present state of mind as I fully believe the days of agents are numbered. But I gave way to that feeling all writers get from time to time of wanting to be in with the ‘in crowd’, to receive the pat on the head (or back) and experience the warm glow that comes with knowing you are selected by the chosen to be one of the chosen. And – and it looked so easy! Even I, with my limited grasp of techno, was able to fill in the gaps without angst.
You guessed it, my work was rejected and the message came the day after my dream in which my Tribes hero died. It contained the usual kindly platitudes: An agent must feel 100% committed to the work, doesn’t mean another might not see its worth, etc. However, the most curious thing was, at the end of the email came this statement : Thank you for giving me the chance to consider your grandfather’s work, and I wish you both luck in your search for a suitable agent to assist you.
What do I make of it? I haven’t a clue. Both my grandfathers died well before I was born and I didn’t mention either in my submission. Ah, well. It is August, after all.
And then I remembered why I stopped submitting my work to publishers and agents.