I stopped LJ'ing because I stopped writing. Long time readers will know I was represented by a respected agent in New York. When I signed to him I really thought I'd cleared the biggest hurdle between me and a major publishing deal. Sadly that was not to be. And while I could live with the rejections from publishers, I couldn't get round the fact that this agent and I were not a good fit. I would send drafts of my WIP and his minimal feedback would leave me confused and irritated. Sometimes he'd ask me to rewrite a scene in a specific way, and then, when I subbed the new version, he'd ask why I'd altered it as he liked it just the way it was. Was he taking the piss or what? But then he probably thought the same about me. Clearly we were not on the same wavelength. But, y'know, it took years to land an agent. An agent with big names in his portfolio, names like Robert Jordan and James Ellroy for crying out loud. It's what every smalll-press writer dreams of, right?.I really didn't want to accept that this arrangement wasn't working.
At around the same time (2010/11) I had discouraging dealings with a couple of small-press publishers - one for a novella and another for a collection of short stories. The novella was called 'Lemon Man'. It was dropped by Morrigan Books because of some frankly stupid, contractual bullshit. In fairness, I should add that 'Lemon Man' was later published by Creative Guy Publishing, who were awesome in every respect, and I still feel guilty that I did so little to publicise the book. Proud of 'Lemon Man' as I was, especially with the foreword by the late Graham Joyce, I'm afraid I was already giving up by the time it went out. Sorry, CGP. Meanwhile, the short story collection 'Memory Bones' was published as agreed by Graveside Tales. But they never paid me the agreed fee beyond some unasked-for contributor copies.
So it'd be towards the end of 2011 that I went on a writing sabbatical. A sabbatical that morphed by mid-2012 into the realisation I had given up for good. Blame the agent, blame Morrigan Books, blame Graveside Tales. Those guys managed to suck the last drops of positivity out of me. Except in some ways I felt they'd done me a favour, because it was kind of nice to not have that pressure us writers put on ourselves. The writers among you will know exactly what I mean. Those misgivings you have at the end of a day when you contributed nothing to the WIP. It was when I was no longer having thos emisgivings, when I stopped caring, that I knew the fat lady had sung.
Family and close friends would ask when I would write again. And I would say "Never, unless..." When I sent stuff to my agent, I would get not just his thoughts, but also the detailed feedback of an assistant named Kirsten. Now, Kirsten and I were very much on the same weavelength. She totally got what I was trying to achieve and her feedback was never less than encouraging and insightful. If Kirsten said something was not working, then I knew it was not working. Better still, she would always come up with a solution. And so, on those occasions I was asked when I was gonna write again, I would reply, "Never, unless Kirsten emails me to say, 'Hey, I am now at another agency and want you to be one of my clients!'."
Because I knew I was 100% safe from that ever happening. As clauses went, it was pretty goddamn watertight.
Except it wasn't. In October 2014, pigs flew. I signed to the Waxman-Leavell Literary Agency (I know! You couldn't make this shit up, right?) and for the past few months, under Kirsten's expert guidance, I have given the WIP a good overhaul. 'The Human Zoo' is once again a novel I am proud of. It still needs the all-important nod from Kirsten, but I'm confident that with maybe a little tweaking it's ready to go out to publishers. In the meantime, I have a head full of ideas and several thousand words typed up for Book 2.
And that's it, really. That's why I abandoned LJ and facebook and took two years to come back with this post. Because I was sulking and now I'm not.