It took me a whole month to read my agent’s latest letter. Not that I can honestly refer to him as that; but he is the only publishing professional who will deign to glance at my work without requiring the whole three-chapters-covering-letter-CV-and-synopsis lottery undertaken twenty times over several months in advance. It’s a measure of my depression around the whole subject that it took me so long – the whole Easter holidays and then some – to crack that sleek expensive envelope lying innocently on my in-pile. I knew it would be another soul-destroying rejection, and I knew I’d need peace and solitude – a few hours at least – to recover my bearings sufficiently to cope with exuberant 5-year-old back from school. Never mind whatever else the day might bring.
So it has proved. Yet it’s a nice letter, as always; one of which as a starting-out writer in my twenties I’d be justly proud. “Once again I’m struck by how good your prose is . . . But given the dire state of today’s market it would be very difficult to find a publisher who comes anywhere near … despite the fact that they too may well praise your writing.”
There’s more, of course, and it’s not just down to the dire state of today’s market. I clearly don’t cut the mustard in ways I won’t repeat here. Of course where there’s life, there’s hope; the great gatekeeper to a chance of success, as I see him, is still interested, still active, and who knows, maybe next time I’ll be able to impress him properly. I’m not short of ideas. But I am short of time, in all imaginable ways. I’m already much too old to be “starting out.”