Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Contract is through




After five weeks of waiting, negotiations, and a bit of to'ing and fro'ing, the hard copies of book contract arrived in mail today.

So tonight we drink a leetle champagne (it's the season, after all. Last night we had sparkling, because we were setting up the Christmas tree!) But tonight, it's real Champagne, for the signing of the contract. It's been a hardish longish road, though when I think about it, it was only 2008 when I got a bit more serious about my writing, and 2009 when got really serious and did the year-long course with the aim of producing a completed first draft of a novel by the end of it. So, what's that. Six years. and it's been hard work, I have really worked hard, and it's been fun and wonderful, and I've waited a lot too. But I am lucky because my persistence has had results.

I know people who aren't trying to do this (that is, publish a novel, in this country, with a conventional publisher) probably don't have any idea how hard it is, how it's not just a matter of good work being rewarded, or hard work being rewarded. There are so many other factors involved, that I had no idea about before. Until I learned about them. Things like thick-skins, patience, determination (read sheer bloody mindedness), luck, resilience, stamina. And people who don't know about publishing wouldn't realise how SLOWLY things move, even when going well.

They say it's always been hard to get published, and they say too that it's never been harder than now.  Also what I'm writing - literary fiction - is the hardest genre of all. Publishers balk at it, it doesn't sell much.

But this is the best Christmas present I've ever had. Better even than my new purple Malvern Star when I was about ten. Better than the Totem Tennis. Better than the game I got when I was about nine, where there were a bunch of marbles and you set up this plastic channelling thing and a mechanism drew up the marbles and then pummelled them down onto three or four drum things that bounced them in a pattern. Better than the Crystal Cylinder two-tone windcheater; the brown bikinis with palm tree design, the board shorts. The skiffle board that got lost on its first outing at Waratah Bay. How do you lose a skiffle board? You leave it by the water's edge and run back to the towel to eat a sandwich or have a drink or dig in the sand. And then when you go back, it's just gone. Buried.

Today I floated in the bay for a while, with a friend, and we each had blow-up rings. She gave me the orange one, her favourite she said, but it kept deflating. When we walked back to the car there was a tumble weed rolling along the footpath.

It felt like it came to meet us, to find her. It had travelled from the country and was rolling along. I told her she needed to take it, and think about it. That it had a message for her.

Sometimes I get very hippy when I am with her. We met at teacher's college years ago, and travelled together for five weeks in Indonesia in 1986 I think it was, not knowing each other that well. We don't see each other often but when we do it's great. She's having a hard time, with her kids, her husband, the rest of her family, including siblings and mother. We talked about our lives and shared our pain and good stuff and it made me realise, again, how much I have to be grateful about. When I talk about my family shit, at least my sister and I are talking and affectionate most of the time. We push through our negative stuff.

I'm not sure whether I'll post again before Christmas or over New Year (though I do fancy a bit of a New Year's Eve here on the blog, if I don't go out. Haven't had a party since the election that time.) So, what are you hoping for, in your wildest dreams? For yourself or for someone else. I'd love to hear it.


Alex said...

how it's not just a matter of good work being rewarded, or hard work being rewarded.

It's something I've noticed in recent years, maybe since the death of Steve Jobs; it's the way we (collectively) seem to have this fetish/mythology (dunno the right term) built around success. This kind of idea that success is a product of virtue; that it's something you achieve because you did all the right things -- with little or no acknowledgement of any outside factors. The best analogy I've got is that it's like thinking people win the lottery because they make smart choices when picking their numbers and play over and over until they win -- totally dismissing the harsh fact that lotteries are fundamentally designed to produce far more losers than winners. Yes, anybody can win, anybody can go from rags to riches, ANYBODY. But not EVERYBODY. The fundamental mechanics of the system simply don't allow for it. Lotteries collect the losses of the multitudes and use them to fund the gains of a few.

It's not a perfect analogy, because I don't think intelligent choices and hard work are irrelevant. The point is that, for most people, even if you're smart and persistent, the odds are still against you, and it's not even possible for all the smart persistent people to succeed. That's where luck comes in.

Apologies if I've said all this before, I don't remember if I have. Also, not trying to belittle anything you've done, but I did think you were kind of touching on it anyway with what you were saying. Again, apologies if I read you wrong.

In my wildest dreams, I'd have a bunch of money that I could spend on making my parents' last years wonderful and luxurious.

Also, no plans for New-Year, so spending it here would be grand.

Melba said...

No that's exactly what I was trying to say... thanks Alex. Yes, when the odds are so stacked against, luck comes in. I was trying to explain it to my mother last night, and at first she couldn't understand what I meant. I could see she wanted to think it was just talent, hard work and persistence. But I see there's a lot of luck as well. Many things need to align and bad luck can prevent those things being right, and good luck can help. But what is luck really, other than the universe letting things happen; maybe it's more an absence of obstacles?

And what a nice dream, selfless.

Alex said...

At the end of the day, I'm not in any financial trouble and my health is good. Everything else is icing on the cake.

We live in a complex system, and there are many things that are beyond our control. I think luck (good or bad) is a word we use to describe our views on what the system gives us.

suze2000 said...

Congratulations! Fabulous news. I have a friend whose father ran one of the independant publishing houses here in Melbourne. He passed away last year and it was pretty clear at his funeral that it was a labour of love and not done for the money. I did get the impression was very proud of it too. (I had only met him the once, unfortunately)

Since we have this lovely new home, New Years will be spent on the back deck with a couple of friends watching the fireworks over the city.

I doubt I'll be allowed to check in here, but may get to some time after midnight. There will definitely be champagne and hopefully lovely warm weather. :)

squib said...

Congratulations, indeed! Of course, the next annoying stage will be people saying, oh, so you only have one book published this year? :P

I was sort of hoping to get a book published (in my wildest dreams). Poetry. I'm talking actual book not pamphlet - if you can't read the spine, then what's the point, eh. My output is too slow and I think I missed the boat (which is a great song by Modest Mouse). One minute I was emerging and first page and the next, I was left page and somewhere around page 266

But anyway, I really do get how hard it is, and how thankless, I mean the way people react, or worse, the way they don't

sarah toa said...

I'm so proud of you Melba!

Melba said...

Well enjoy the deck Suze, I hope it's a nice evening for it. From memory, last year's NYE was v warm. I remember what I wore and that we got very silly on a balcony somewhere with sparklers and those pull crackery things. If I'm anywhere other than here, it will be on that balcony. x


Thanks squibby. I'm not sure about missing the boat, but I think I get what you mean about you can be the next new thing and then that moment passes very quickly and if your books don't sell or don't gain traction, then that's it. Very hard to get second book up etc. I've heard people say two things about publishing in this country: it's easier to get published than get an agent; it's easier to get a first novel published, the second one doesn't automatically follow. A few people I know who've had first novels pubbed say mid 2000s, have been unable to get their second ones up, or it has taken ages, and not been with the same publisher. So I'm not looking forward to that. There is the quiet expectation that a first book needs to blow everyone else out of the water. That's so much pressure. But it seems there's no room any more for developing careers. That's what I want, even at my age: a career. I have lots of books in me, but I just need to stay healthy enough/alive enough to write 'em. x


Thanks Sarah! x

elaine said...


and +1 to Alex's "This kind of idea that success is a product of virtue; that it's something you achieve because you did all the right things -- with little or no acknowledgement of any outside factors."

It's the great lie of neo-liberalism/capitalism isn't it? That is things go right it's because of something you did as if in a bubble and if things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself (when it is the very nature of the system that someone has to be a loser).

I'm hoping to get a sleep-in past 6am at some stage in the next year as my boyzle is a (very) early riser. I would also like for my Nanna to remain in good health.

Mr E said...

Congratulations, Melbs.

I'm so happy for you and I marvel at your patience and determination.

Well played!

Melba said...

Thanks Elaine, good luck with that sleep in, also for Nanna's continued good health. You're lucky to have a Nanna still.

And Mr E!! How nice to see you. Hope you are well? And thanks for your good wishes. Yes it was indeed well played.

jo_blue said...

Melba, how wonderful for you that your dreams are coming true. I am so happy for you. I think luck or good karma does have something to do with it too, but I also think the harder you work and want it, the more likely it is that it will happen.

In my wildest dreams, my mum would be cured of her pain - physical and mental, which would allow the real her to show through. My sister needs a financial break - a lottery win for her would be nice. For me, I'd like to hang out with Adam Lambert for a day - not much to ask!! For you, I wish you a publishing contract for book #2 and health to be able to write all the other ones in you.
Have a wonderful new year - to all of you - Alex and Squib and Suze - 2015 is going to rock, I can just feel it

Melba said...

Thanks Jo. I hope your mum can get on top of her pain somehow... So hard to watch another person struggling. And thanks for wishing something for me as well. Funny how I didn't think about health and ageing - not really - until I was on track to get some things published. Didn't consider I might want to look after myself better and be around longer for my husband or my daughter or myself even, but now, now that there's "My Work" [irony quotation marks], well, it is at the top of the list in a strange, selfish way.