The day after the day after Winchester Writers’ Festival I spent the first hour walking along the shore. I didn’t think about dead bodies, or forensics. The second hour I sat in the dappled garden with tea and crumpet. I read, ‘The Uninvited’, by Liz Jensen. Just half way through and it is finally getting my attention.
I carried my camera to the shore and into the garden, and took 109 photos. I also slipped it into my bag before the festival and took not one single snap. I was unable to gather any interest at all despite giving myself a pep talk, ‘you’ll like it once you get there,’ ‘a free lunch’ . . . it didn’t work . . . ‘feedback on your novel,’ aroused some interest.
A place at the festival was my first prize for the best murder short-story last summer and I had been looking forward to going. I had just finished a 75,000 word detective story and was happy!! Ahh, there’s the rub.
I had been cluttered with all four one-to-one sessions in one day, not my choice. With ME I knew I would be shattered . . . was shattered by 10.30am. Shattered after I parked the car in ‘disabled,’ a seriously angled narrow bay between two brick walls, a car-length wide.
All three agents gave completely and utterly diverse feedback: ‘excellent pitch’, ‘not long enough’; ‘Great opening’; ‘lose the opening’; ‘really connected to character’; ‘character betrays responsibility to reader’ . . . I could go on. What did I expect?
The peach; ‘An accountant, an organised person, and a good one, does not aspire to murder.’ This comment threw me. Nowhere does this character aspire to, or commit murder.Where’s the sense in that remark?
Then, I understood, either he hadn’t bothered to read the synopsis properly, or I hadn’t written it well enough . . . I doubt he had read the requested 10,000 words. Then came the ‘how to’ tip – ‘Have a picture of your protagonist’ . . . A’HEM . . . The lecture continued and I switched off, glad when it was over. For this level of feedback, I could have borrowed a book from the library. Soooo glad it was free!
Apart from that, the novel is; ‘publishable’, has ‘definite commercial viability’, all agreed it was, ‘well written’.
I was too flat and tired to hang about for the final 1-2-1 but left my e mail in order for her to contact me with feedback. Wonder if she’ll bother?
At lunch I met and had an agreeable conversation with a young man who had completed his first novel, gained a professional critique and was a member of a supportive writing group. After the festival he planned to ‘send off’, to lots of publishers, if the book wasn’t taken up, he would publish digitally. Well planned.
I am sorry to have lost his blog address, (I lose things frequently) and if he reads this, please send it to me via my other blog; www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com – thank you.
I have ordered a second hand forensics manual from Blackwells, a tip for all sleuth-writers from the hour of master class; ‘Bring out your Dark Side’ that I did manage to get to.
1-2-1 Feedback was personal with an eye on business. I sat next to a young woman while waiting, her novel is about a town of angels on earth taking care of us humans. I metaphorically cast my eyes heavenwards thinking ‘derivative’, while smiling; ‘lovely.’I spoke to her afterwards, the agent will read it when it’s finished. There we go.
I have seen my angel. It appeared between me and a dying woman in case death mistook me for her. The angel was much bigger than the hospital ward and gold flakes, like fish scales caught the light before it went. The woman in the bed opposite died while the angel was there. I’d like to say, ‘while the angel spread its wings,’ but I didn’t see wings.
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