On Twitter, I follow a couple of British and American literary agents. Some of them I follow because they give great advice and insight like #Askagent. Some I follow because they talk about what submissions they’ve had, what deals they’ve made and what the publishers are looking for now. (The publishers also tweet and are fascinating too.)
Today I wanted to comment on one of my favourite parts of the literary business. What is it? Well, it’s that lovely moment when you read that another author has had some great news. A lot of the time, I don’t even know them but isn’t it wonderful when one of us reaches out and the universe hands us our dream?
Recently, I’ve seen tweets on six-figure deals and film rights sold, authors who are meeting massive film directors and appearing on TV. My delight increases when you feel their excitement through their words. How do you sum up such euphoria with 140 characters?
I know that it may seem slightly odd in a world that normally defaults to the ‘well, why don’t I have that’ mentality. I genuinely believe that there are more of us cheering for the successes of our peers/contemporaries/fellow trench-mates than there are bemoaning the fact they aren’t in the promised land themselves.
The reason why I think this is more evident in the literary world is because of the work involved in writing. Everyone who has ever written sixty thousand plus words in one coherent (or maybe not) document deserves a big pat on the back. Everyone who has written poetry, short stories and flash fiction and held it out in trembling hands in the glare of critical eyes knows how scary it is. Writing takes the endeavour of a driven mind, the focus of surgeon, the determination of an athlete and the obsession of an addict. We may be making a load of words up, shoving some fictional people onto a page and decorating with flowery prose but without the aforementioned traits, it ends up in the bin. (sometimes it does anyway.)
For any author who has heard the immortal words, ‘Everyone has a book in them,’ they understand why that always brings a smile to my face. Maybe everyone does have a story in them but then everyone is capable of anything in this world with the right amount of dogged-determination, opportunity and hard work. That’s what’s so wonderful about the world we live in, anything is possible!
In my eyes, fellow authors, writers and closet-writers all want to create something that touches people. I mean, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to have a studio tour based on one of my series and the excitement of seeing your story up on the screen sounds like fun! That’s the jackpot if you create something that impacts on society and becomes embedded into literature alongside the greats. Who wouldn’t want to have people refer to their work in the same vein as Dickens, Hugo or Austen and Elliot or Wordsworth or Woolf or Shakespeare?
Deep inside though, in our core (with ego and finance aside) we really want to speak to people’s hearts, to whisper into their lives and share something special with them. Yes, we write for ourselves and if we don’t like the story then there’s a chocolate’s chance in the Sahara that anyone else will. But, at least for me, there’s the chance to connect to someone who may never meet me. It gives me tingles when I read the work of someone who lived centuries ago as much as it does when I hear the Harry Potter theme-tune. (It’s true, hand me a Butterbeer.)
Books give readers the freedom to forget the world around them and books give authors the exact same thing. It becomes a secret meeting place and what other medium could have you up all night when you have to work the next day? For the price of a modest meal, you get hours of entertainment. If the author does their job well, then you get the pleasure of meeting a life-long friend.
All because someone sat down and wrote, word after word, line after line, hour upon hour until they typed the end. Then, they edited, re-wrote, re-edited, re-wrote again. They agonised over whether to use discombobulated in a sentence. They took on board rejections, critiques, more rejections. They probably ate an awful lot of chocolate/drank too much coffee and without doubt ended up aching in places that should not be legal, every one of us, those who soared into the stars or flopped like my attempt at flipping a pancake. Every single one worked very hard.
So, when I see that one of us has gotten an international six-figure deal, has been taken on by an agent, or has taken the dive and published themselves. There’s nothing like cheering at the success of someone who has worked phenomenally hard. Well done to you all!
And a big cheer to the agents, publishers, teachers, societies and editors who take part online and in conferences to lend their guidance and experience to the wide-eyed authors hoping for some sound advice. Without those guys (however scary some may appear,) we would never reach the heights we are aiming for.
Oh, and one more thank you… to the readers… because a book is much more fun when you share it with another soul. PS – that includes you, yes you who took the time to read my blog. Have a great morning/day/evening/night, may it be filled with the joy of doing what you love best.