Finally, after almost six years of editing, I’ve sent a draft of The Clockwork Butterfly to Louise Burns at Andrew Mann Ltd. My previous handler, Anne Dewe, has retired and so my fate has been passed on into the delicate, all-powerful hands of Louise.
In my covering email I outlined, very briefly, the path I hoped my literary endeavours would be taking in the foreseeable future. And I also mentioned that if she didn’t read this submission soon my next tactic would be to follow her around and read my book at her using a loudhailer. I thought it sounded humorous and I hoped she’d take it right way. I then set to worrying that I was being too cheeky and she’d immediately strike me off her books for being a jerk.
I got an email back almost immediately. I’ve mentioned before how the yellow envelope of hope makes my stomach contract with fear. And this was no exception. I could barely bring myself to look. She must have skimmed over my neatly hilarious email and decided I was not worth any more effort and this was undoubtedly a quick rejection note.
It was an automated out of office message, saying she was away from her emails and she’d read them all on Tuesday 23/7. Tomorrow.
It was 12:29 and I settled down to wait. Twenty four hours is such a long time. Gallantly, my better half tried to distract me by almost losing her job, and our home in the process, but these things seem trivial when I’m waiting for a response from one of the gatekeepers of dreams.
I had to wait more than 24 hours. 27 hours and 24 minutes in fact. In this intervening eternity I had all the usual thoughts: she hates it, my email has been inadvertently deleted, these suspicious tropical storms we’re having have prevented her from getting into work, she hates it, London has been overrun by plague/zombies/aliens/eggmen, and she hates it.
But then, at 15:53 on Tuesday afternoon, I got another email from her. One that she’d written. And it said:
I am sorry. This was a misunderstanding on my part. I have sent to my kindle– allow me two weeks? I’ll let you know my initial thoughts, otherwise I will prepare for the warranted megaphone treatment.
Oh, joy of joys. All is going according to plan. I think she even appreciated my joke. She’s got my novel on her kindle and she’s given me a timescale to work to. Two weeks!! I can’t wait that long. I shall surely expire long before these 20,160 minutes have elapsed.
In a moment of sheer madness, to alleviate the stress I thought I’d pen back a jocular email. So I sent this:
It’s also got a siren…
Why? Why did I do this. Everything was going OK. I didn’t need to prove to her that I really am a jerk. Why didn’t I keep my sending finger in my pocket? Now I am convinced that I’ve gone too far and any goodwill I may have garnered by being gently, mildly funny has been ruined.
These next two weeks are going to be hard.