A Fond Farewell

December 15, 2014

I went to see Battle of Five Armies today. Life will never be the same.

In years past I have watched Jackson’s Tolkien movies at one minute past midnight on the day of their release, so I could watch them the first minute I could. On this final occasion I was in the cinema a whole thirteen hours later – an indication perhaps of the lessening hold this last trilogy has on me.

Nevertheless long before the credits rolled I had tears on my cheeks and plenty more in my eyes. Billy Boyd sang his song and I had to catch myself lest snot lay waste to my dwindling tissues. I was the last one in the cinema, lights up and bleary eyed as the last of the credits rolled. A lone VUE girl in her black shirt and trousers, baseball cap, brushed up popcorn and cartons and pop bottles. In some respects I was afraid to leave. Peter Jackson has shaped and driven so much of this creative mind, I was struggling to say goodbye. I know it is not goodbye of course but to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth the journey is at an end.

It is now twelve years since Jackson and friends first lit a creative fire inside of me. In that time my writing adventure has been filled with journeys. From writing endless blogs after realising I had no words to paint fiction narratives. The marvel of joining a book club and realising there was a world of fiction outside commercial genres. Learning, learning learning. From World history, religion, psychology. Writing short narratives that evolved to short stories that became writing a book. The five year passion of Chasing Innocence and learning traditional and digital publishing on the way. Joining a writing group and the first meeting with my book clasped tight in hand. Through shared experiences these last three years with the writers of WordWatchers. Always easier in my own company I surprised myself and made a few friends along the way.

Mixing with writers offers endless opportunities for distraction, often following a common cause to better writing. It has helped me discover the type of writer I am. Significantly in these three years I have failed to finish a single book despite working on three.

The lack of completion has come largely with my ambitious goals for these projects – I had to further evolve as a writer to be able to write them. Recently I also realised I’m not finishing books because I’m a method actor of writers, all or nothing. Which doesn’t work well with distractions.

As I sat in the cinema with the credits rolling it dawned on me it wasn’t only Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth that had come to pass. If I wanted to write these stories and bring life to the characters my time with WordWatchers had too.

It was a bitter sweet moment, realising a goodbye and in the same moment the excitement of an obvious path. I’ve a lot of treasured memories these last three years and friendships I hope will continue.

For now I bid you a fond farewell.

Abbie’s Marvellous Moments

December 12, 2014

Abbie’s Marvellous Moments

#1 – The Book Deal

 

On the 13th of December, exactly a year ago, I travelled into London to meet my soon-to-be editor, Kate. It happened to be a Friday. Friday the 13th – clearly not so unlucky for me! That day was the first of several marvellous moments along my journey to publication – a day filled with such joy I just have to share it with you!

I got to Little, Brown’s offices super-early. I have to say, the imposing Unilever House did nothing for my nerves. I sat in the lobby, researching other titles on Atom’s list. There was Twilight, of course, and a lot of similar supernatural stuff. Where would I fit in? Had they made a mistake and confused my manuscript with someone else’s?

My agent, Jodie, arrived, and I nervously confessed that I felt like I was going for a job interview. She looked at me and said dryly, ‘This is like going for a job interview’. Great. Thanks!

As it happened, she was wrong. Kate practically bounded out to reception to meet us, full of smiles and energy and enthusiasm. It didn’t feel formal or interviewy at all. We chatted about work parties and Christmas jumpers (Jodie was sporting a particularly fine example!). Kate told me how much everyone on the team loved Unspeakable. I thought she’d come with a list of things she’d want to change, to see how I’d react, if I’d turn into some sort of hideous monster who refused to alter a single precious word. She didn’t. She vaguely mentioned the end needed some work, but that didn’t seem to dampen her passion for the book.

I also thought that it would be a pre-meeting to see how they felt about me before they decided whether to make an offer. It wasn’t. Kate was saying that she’d contact Jodie as soon as Jodie was back in her office, to try to get things tied up before Christmas. Did that mean … I hardly dared to hope, but it did seem like they were poised, ready to make an offer.

Jodie and I had a debrief in a coffee shop afterwards. It was good to let go of some of the tension and chat about what we might be expecting in terms of the offer – one of the most surreal conversations I’ve ever had!

After I’d said goodbye, I walked back to the station, phoning my fiancée, then my parents. I didn’t know what to say! My words just tumbled out in one big mess. I didn’t want to get hopes up by mentioning that I thought they might make an offer that very afternoon, but that was kind of what Kate was saying … wasn’t it?!

I wandered along South Bank, looking at the Christmas stalls. I bought myself some celebratory mulled wine. Even if they didn’t make an offer, what a fantastic response and wonderful feeling to see someone else so engaged and excited about my book.

On the train back, I was a wreck. Stomach churning, I refreshed and refreshed and refreshed my emails, but there was nothing from Jodie. Oh, wait: check the junk mail! No, nothing.

I don’t know what I did with myself when I got home. I knew I was fizzing with energy, hands glued to my phone. Refresh, refresh, refresh. Oh, something! Subject: Thanks. What did that mean? Thanks, but no thanks? They didn’t like me? And then there were two words from Jodie ‘Offer in!’ OFFER IN! OFFER IN!

I squealed, cried a bit, ran around the house, did a stupid dance. I gave my fiancée a hug, felt everything inside me melt with relief. All that hard work, all those hours, those sacrificed weekends, finally paid off. I phoned my parents, cried a bit more, managed to announce, in a shaky, tearful voice ‘My book’s going to be published.’ I emailed WordWatchers, most of whom knew nothing about the meeting. Subject: News. Body text: MY BOOK’S GOING TO BE PUBLISHED WOHOOOOOOOOOOO!

Before my fiancée and I went out to celebrate, we took some pictures so I could always remember what that moment felt like. Just writing about it now makes me feel all kinds of things at once: happiness, excitement, nerves, relief. Suffice it to say, my family and I had a VERY merry Christmas. I hope you have one too, and that some day you’ll have your own marvellous moment that you just have to share with everyone.

 

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