Tag Archives: Ann Cleeves

On being a writer (part one)

Having spent the weekend with two dear friends enjoying good conversation and the delights of Manchester, including Joana Vasconcelos textile work at the Art Gallery (see photo), I return to the realities of being a writer.Manchester1

I have started submitting The Art of the Imperfect, the first novel in my crime series, to literary agents. I have had my first rejection. I have tried to change this to ‘I have had my first decline’, I’m not sure it helps. Sitting in the Spring sunshine today I watched two kayakers tackling the surf in North Bay. At first it seemed unlikely they would get out into the water as they were battered by the waves. With persistence, however, they made it. Non-writers assume getting a literary agent/publisher is like this. With persistence I can battle against the tide and reach someone who will be interested in publishing my novel.

This is not true. I used to think finding a literary agent/publisher was 50% talent-inspiration-hard work and 50% luck. I now believe it is 85% luck. I could approach 1001 lit agents/publishers and still not get taken on, whatever the worth of my work might be. The fact that Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series has only got on TV because a book was picked up in an Oxfam store by a producer just about says it all.

However, the metaphor provided by those kayakers does have some resonance. The only thing I can effect by determination and skill is the quality of my writing. I, therefore, pledge myself (once again) to my growth as a writer and will continue to paddle out into the ocean of inspiration which is open to me.