Saturday, 20 June 2015

Not looking!

We all know a watched pot never boils, but far more frustrating is the fact that important email never arrives in your inbox if you keep checking for it.

I’m going away next week (a trip ‘up north’ to visit family) so I’ve been busy this week tidying my writing room, getting rid of clutter, putting papers I want to keep into physical files, reorganizing and backing up computer files, and drastically pruning my to-do lists so I can get off to a fresh start when I come back.

I checked my writing records and realized I haven’t heard anything about five submissions I’ve made: three short stories entered into competitions, a children’s picture book story sent to a publisher, and the first three chapters of a children’s novel with another publisher.

I’m hoping that no response from the publishers might be a good sign – I’m happy for them to take as long as they like – but I'm puzzled as to why the competition results haven't been announced yet. The organizers have had plenty of time to come to a decision.

I will have access to the Internet while I’m away but I’ve decided, no, I’m going to be on holiday. I’m going to resist the temptation to check my emails every day. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when I get home I might find something interesting amongst all the spam clogging up my inbox!

P.S. Just received a very quick response to a submission I made to Alfie Dog Fiction. I’ll tell you about it when I get back.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Opposites attract

When I first wondered aloud if I could get a story published in a women’s magazine, my husband was completely supportive.

Good idea! Why not? Yes, go for it!

So I did. And when the rejections arrived he was very encouraging.

Never mind, don’t give up. Send it to someone else.

And when I received my first acceptance he seemed as pleased as me.

Well done! I knew you could do it!

But when that first story appeared in print I was puzzled by his non-reaction. He glanced at my name in the magazine when I pointed it out, but he made no attempt to read the story. I was a bit disappointed but assumed he would read it later when he had time to give it his full attention. I left the magazine on the coffee table and waited … and waited …

The same thing happened with my next published story – and the next. He was enthusiastic enough while I was writing and trying to get published, but he clearly wasn’t interested in reading the finished product. I began to suspect that he had secretly read some of my work and didn’t think it was any good. Was he keeping quiet to spare my feelings?

The penny finally dropped one evening when he came home from work and started telling me how he’d solved a problem with some sub-standard concrete. (He was a materials engineer in road construction).

Gosh, that was clever of you! How fascinating! 

I did listen to what he was saying, and tried to nod in the right places, but he might just as well have been speaking double Dutch with a bit of Chinese thrown in.

Then I understood that he had the same problem with my writing. He knew it was important to me, so he tried to take an interest, but he didn’t read fiction of any kind and the world of women’s magazines was completely alien to him. If one of my stories was published that meant it was good, didn’t it? There was nothing else he could say about it.    

When he – very reluctantly – retired, I wondered what he would find to do all day. Would he expect me to retire too, and spend all my time with him? What on earth would we talk about?

I needn’t have worried. Although we’re both at home all day, we still  ‘go to work’ separately. And when we meet up at mealtimes and in the evenings, or agree to take some time off to go for a walk, or to enjoy an outing together, we find plenty to discuss. I tell him about my writing and art, and he explains how he’s helped a friend with a computer problem and spent all morning tinkering with his beloved sports car …

And we both pretend to be really interested, and we both know the other person is just pretending …

But it works. Which is probably why we’ve made it through another year.

Are you and your significant other like peas in a pod, or as different as chalk and cheese?