Sunday, September 30, 2007

September - a month of abundance

September usually heralds the start of Autumn and the harvest. It is a time of abundance. And it certainly has been for me. Those of you poor, lost, lonely cyber-folk who occasionally stroll past this blog will know that I've been trying for some time now to find my niche; to work out how exactly to build a career based upon my passions and pretensions as an artist and writer. Yes, I've had the odd magazine or newspaper article published. Yes, I've illustrated a couple of books and fulfilled any number of arty jobs. But no, I don't have any kind of structured, concrete plan of work and I certainly don't earn enough from my passions to sustain a mortgage, relationship, two cars, two dogs and two cats. So this year I decided to buckle down and get my act together. I've spent 2007 working hard - sometimes alone, sometimes in partnership with like-minded chums - to develop several book and TV projects to the stage where they could be pitched to publishers and production teams. And then I set out to get myself an agent.

In my last post, I got positively tumescent about the fact that an agent had expressed an interest in me. Well, since then, two more emerged to stake their claim on my simple talent. What a glorious position to be in after all these years! Anyway, I met them all and eventually decided who to sign with. I now have an agent. It's all very exciting.

Obviously, I can't say too much here in what is a very public forum but it does now look as if one of my books will be published next year. And lest you think I've been jammy, spawny, lucky or fortuitous, let me say ... have I f*ck! I've worked for this!

I have a box file here in my study that I call my Big Black Box of Despair. It's where I file all of my rejection letters from publishers, art dealers and production companies. And looking back through it yesterday, I found my earliest rejection slip. It was typewritten and dated 1988. So having my first book published next year will mark the 20th anniversary of my first 'Thanks but no thanks' letter. Admittedly, I have had a full-time job these past 20 years. I haven't been a 40 hour week jobbing writer and artist starving in a garrett somewhere. But there are something like 60 or 70 rejection letters in the Despair Box. I've been trying.

So my advice to all of you passionate would-be authors and artists out there is ... keep going! Do what you do because you love it. Life is oh so very short and then you're dead a long time. If you love it enough, someone else will love it too. Don't be cynical and don't just think about the money. That shows through. Trust me.

Make as many contacts as you can. Share your work with others. Give it away if you have to. They say that what goes around comes around and I've found it to be very true. It was me volunteering free artwork to the Osteoporosis 2000 charity and the Talk like a Pirate Day fund-raising people that got me noticed by Scholastic Books (see earlier posts). It was by helping a friend to write some materials for the Save the Rhino charity that led to me attending Douglas Adams's first memorial lecture and meeting Stephen Fry who has been instrumental in championing my first book. And it was getting involved with yet another charity, A Voice for Moldova, to help a friend that got me a connection to author Tony Hawks. So share the love. Share your talent. Nothing spreads news of your ability better than kind word of mouth.

I've endeavoured to pass this philosophy onto my kids and I'd like to think that, in some small way, it's helped them to be successful. This joyous September has also seen the release of This Dying Hour's first EP (now available from i-tunes as well). That's my son Liam's band. And daughter Sarah has just passed her driving test on the first attempt. My other daughter Kerys also seems to have had a great month with what seems to be a happy new relationship and the arrival of a puppy to entertain and nibble on my two grandchildren.

So keep at it guys. Rejection letters are depressing - no denying that. Remember, I have 20 years' worth. But just keep trying. Keep improving your skills. Be passionate about what you do. Do it because you enjoy it and to Hell with whether anyone else cares. If they do, look at it as a bonus. If they're willing to pay you money, that's a bigger bonus. But don't do it just for that reason because you'll fail. Do it because it gives you pleasure because that, ladies and gents, is what separates us from all other life on this planet. We have evolved the ability to create and experience joy.

Don't waste it, eh?


joelmead said...

Congratulations on the agent news - you certainly deserve some good luck after all these years, mate…

Me said...




Talent is talent the skill was polishing in a marketable way. The book is STUPENDOUS