And the winner of the York Festival of Writing 2017 pitching competition is... the invisible author. Writing journeys and how not to start them.
It could only happen to me.
The story of this writer’s journey is more ridiculous than my attempted plotlines. York Festival of Writing 2017 was going well: a treasure trove of good advice, inspiring workshops and illuminating one-to-ones. I finally felt optimistic about all this social media malarkey, thanks to an energising talk by agent and editor, Julie Crisp. I’d realised that an author’s career is never linear, as I laughed and learnt with Amazon bestseller, Mark Edwards. And I’d sharpened my craft with some piercing comments during my agent one-to-ones.
So, starting my last one-to-one on Sunday morning, I was upbeat.
My second mistake.
A few seconds in and I was silently mouthing at the unfortunate agent of choice: “At last night’s gala dinner, I won what?”
My first mistake was not to attend the gala dinner.
The noise built to a whisper: “The pitching competition?”
It rose to a scream: “You’re winding me up, right?” Doubting an agent’s sanity and integrity within the first five minutes. Not cool. Not professional. None of the weekend workshops covered imploding your own profile by missing your opportunity to read your work in front of agents and publishers. Thanks to Laura Williams (Peters Fraser and Dunlop) for being so lovely and talking me back down to the stark reality of my not-so-perfect opening chapters. Oh, and ignoring the dribbling.
But really, taking a moment to reflect. Finally someone, nay an agent, was heralding my writing light. Ok… true, winning a 150 word pitching competition is maybe not full blown trumpet heralding, but possibly a small squeak through a straw? It’s what we, condemned to our writing garret, live for. It’s THE MOMENT. Anyway, my writing light wasn’t shining at the gala dinner. In fact, the chair was decidedly empty when they announced the winner.
Oh, the shame. Why wasn’t I at the dinner?
A non-celebrity no-show to increase my profile al la Lady Gaga?
A moment of writerly paralysis following Mr Harry Bingham’s (author and founder of the Writers’ Workshop) question on whether it was a ‘good time’ or a ‘bad time’ to be a writer, forced me to decide that it was ‘no time at all’ to be writer.
Life imitating my art, as a scene from my wannabe YA book, Make Me Beautiful, unfolded. It was truly as bizarre as my protagonist’s, Belle’s, press conferences at the fictitious Vanity Corporation.
Or, was the real reason that I was not at the gala dinner reading my pitch, because I was on the other side of the beautiful city of my birth, at the seat of my ancient parents, paying homage. Literally, was half way up a ladder inspecting the painting of the ceiling joists of ancient parents’ new home. Yes. Really. You know how in children’s books, we always blame the parents…
Thanks to agent Carrie Plitt (Felicity Bryan) for being so gracious about my lack of manners and foresight to show up at the gala dinner.
@AyeshaBraganza (henceforth known as the invisible author). Her quest to make herself visible will no doubt end with egg on her face.
Watch out for her next strike (or miss).
Coming to a platform near you.
Whatever happens, I will have fun sourcing pictures of empty chairs. You can get ones bathed in ‘warm light’: who knew?
And hey, I have a story now. And it’s all about the story.