It’s tempting when you have an agent ask you if you are seeking representation to send him something immediately.
It’s also an unusual situation and one that materialised after winning the Bath Short Story Award. Of course it by no means makes me any closer to being signed by an agent, but never the less is a real turn of events. I did respond of course and said I would sub the new novel when it’s ready and that for me is key — when it’s ready.
But how do you know when your work is ready?
I am a lot better at assessing that now, but it’s all relative — ready within your capabilities at this present time perhaps? What I used to think was ready — really wasn’t. This is why at some point hiring the use of a critiquer or copy-editor is essential to your growth as a writer. And why I can’t stress enough the importance of time in honing those skills and in my case acquiring those publishing successes — I think I have about reached 20 short stories published in books now and it means my novel-writing benefits from having reached a ‘publishable’ standard. Of course there is a whole lot more to writing a novel, a whole lot, but if your style, your use of voice, your understanding of good story telling is in place, you stand a lot better chance of writing something great.
I am really happy with many aspects of I Am Wolf and with the story but I am still trying to get the protagonist right. Because she isn’t initially ‘not that likeable’ it’s proving to be a real test, so her vulnerability when it comes does endear the reader to her and it’s essential for the story to have the power it needs. At critique group last might it was very encouraging that this is beginning to happen with my changes and that they seem to think it’s a great story — but that it needs this thing I am struggling to define but seeking each step of the edit. There is some way to go yet — for me to say it’s ready.
The temptation is to ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ and sub it but I will never submit anything unless I’m sure I am giving it the best chance. And it’s not quite there yet for me. There will always be agents looking for something they want to take a punt on, so less haste I say. And I keep saying to myself.
I had hoped it would be ready to sub about the time the new novel is out and that might be the case but it is most likely to be nearer to New Year.
But take heed writers — while we want to gallop that last furlong, don’t. The agents will still be there and the publishers will still be waiting for the next best thing to come along.
Give your work the best chance. Your stories are your children. Don’t send them out without a coat. (And oddly that metaphor is a leitmotif in I Am Wolf.)
Be ready people. Be ready.
No particular reason, I just love this …