The Consequences of Soliciting

Sometimes Outpost life gets sticky.

Not humid-shirt-glued-to-your-back/hair-to-your-neck Sticky; the Outpost is popodom crack dry so that Hat’s lips are always sore and towels dry into the pyramid shapes that they’ve been abandoned as on the floor. No, not that kind of Sticky: mired in tedium, wading through the day, stuck in a torpor, enervating Sticky.

Isolation does that.

Some mornings in the Outpost I wake in a panic at the hours that stretch taut ahead; I must tread them with all the precision of a tightrope walker or they’ll evaporate in a stew of television watching or mindless internet surfing which leave me disgruntled and ill-humoured; I’ve done bloody nothing all day I will moan. Assuming direction becomes even more crucial when there is little to offer it. The parameters to my days are so loose as to be intangible at times, so loose I could tie myself in uncompromising knots with them.

Some mornings in the Outpost I wonder if anybody would notice if I didn’t bother to get out of bed.

So I get up. And if I’m not cutting glass and my fingers and the soles of my feet for the tiny shards that have escaped my work bench, if I’m not playing at being a Glass Artist for the day, I solicit.

I turn on the charm, sashay through cysberspace and cock an eye at any number of given editors (I’m not fussy: I’ll sell my scribe’s soul to anybody who’ll pay) and I say, I wondered if you were looking for freelance material? I have a couple of ideas for the magazine/paper/ezine but just wanted to check first … Sometimes I might attach relevant clips, literary equivalent of hitching your skirt to tempt a buyer, in vain hope an editor might reference them. My name will mean nothing.

I’m not JK after all: JK’s a real writer. I’m not; I know that because if I loftily suggest I might be, ‘I’m a writer’, I have said, when asked (because instinct tells me the conversation might not go far on I’m Just a Mum) the response is, indubitably, ‘Oh how interesting! What have you written?’ And they don’t mean the piece you did for the school magazine, they mean which books. And those you have written lie languishing, collecting micro-dust, in a Word document. So you say, because you were foolish enough to use the word Writer in the first place (which, by extension, must suggest a hardback ISBN edition somewhere), ‘I’ve tried to find a publisher, but nobody’s interested’. And then they say, and they all say it, ‘Oh don’t worry, your time will come; JK Rowling approached 36 publishing houses before she was discovered’.

Actually, you want to say, because you know, because as a wannabewriter, these sorts of numbers are relevant, her agent approached 12, Bloomsbury was the 13th. Lucky for some.

Actually, you want to say, because you know, because as a wannabewriter, these sorts of numbers are relevant, you’ve approached more than 36. You’ve approached 43. And they’ve all said the same thing: not one for our lists, I’m afraid.

In the last two days I have pitched fifteen editors.

If I score a single commission it’ll be a good couple of days work. And I will be able to relate to Husband, over a beer, that my brazen soliciting has paid off.

And the Outpost will be a little less sticky as a consequence.

24 Responses to “The Consequences of Soliciting”

  1. Potty Mummy Says:

    Absolutely the best of luck. From someone else who is finding life a bit sticky right now…

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    oh potty, i’m sorry. solicit. really. i can vouch for the rewards. infrequent but oh so … when they happen … rewarding? x

  3. Iota Manhattan Says:

    I really wish you were coming to Cyber Mummy. Or England, at least.

  4. Iota Manhattan Says:

    Love the description of you flirting and soliciting round cyber writing opportunities.

  5. Lyn Says:

    I can relate to when you say you feel like you have wasted a day if you let it languish, and fall away from you. Sounds like you were busy sowing seeds. Law of nature dictates that if you sow alot of seeds, something is bound to sprout up – the start of something good I hope. Fingers crossed for you. Writing can be a thankless job but after reading your blog, you can draw a small measure of satisfaction that you have an audience that thoroughly enjoys and appreciates your take on the world. Stick with it! : )

  6. R. Sherman Says:

    Once you get a few–and they will come–others will follow until you’ve got too many to manage.

    Best of luck.

  7. nuttycow Says:

    I can’t believe that a publishing house *wouldn’t* want you. Do you want me to go and beat ’em up for you?

    Seriously, best of luck

  8. Addy Says:

    All I can say, is that they don’t know what they are missing. You have a wonderful way with words and your writing is very interersting!

  9. Harriet Says:

    When I was in Chicago, on holiday between law school and starting my job (I was going to say “first” job then, but actually it’s the only one I ever had. That anyone paid me for that is) I was somewhat taken aback to see many shops with signs in the window saying “No public conveniences. No solicitors”.

    I mean, I know some people don’t like lawyers, but really….

    Sorry, silly story as a preamble to say that, as ever, I enjoy reading what you write. So keep up the soliciting. I want to put an order into Amazon for your book one day.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t have said JK, I’d have said Mary Wesley. She was 71 when her first novel was published. i’m not sure if that’s encouraging or just utterly depressing. Sorry.

  10. Kit Says:

    I’m so impressed with your soliciting – that is the hardest thing of all to do as a writer. You are a writer. You write, we read. Those who think that to be a writer means you have to have published a book are plain mistaken! Those are authors. We are writers, whatever it is we write, paid or unpaid! And I love your analogies.

  11. doglover Says:

    Dear Lady of the Night – I enjoyed your blog, as I always do and also because I am a solicitor (although unlike you I can’t write and had to do years of training – and lifting my skirt wouldn’t attract anyone, especially as I am of the male persuasion).

    It seems to me obvious that the first editor you approached would take you on if you were to tell him, not that you have never had a book published, but that he should lose no time in reading your fabulous blogs. Once he’d done that, he’d be on the phone to your outpost (even if it probably wouldn’t be working).

  12. Paradise Says:

    I have days like that; they feel like those interminable car journeys when you snack on rubbish & nibble inconsequentially all day, & by the end of the journey your mouth feels like the proverbial bottom of a bird cage. I don’t have nearly so many now, but I can certainly empathise. I do hope you can find a publisher or someone interesetd in yr writing. We all are, but that doesn’t pay the rent or give filip to the soul the way a commercial interest wd perhaps…….

  13. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    Agree with the others – they’d be lucky to have you. You’re a brilliant writer and deserve to be published, whether it’s a book or a magazine article. I bet it will happen one day.

  14. Rob Says:

    Rest assured, your time will come. I’m sure you have plenty of material to put together some kind of light-weight novel? That seems to be what sells these days.

  15. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Iota – so do i. and what are you doing in the blogsphere girl: you’re supposed to be on a break! x

    that’s very kind Lyn; thank you.

    Mr S: oh how glorious the thought, then I could hand back some of the rejection slips I’ve garnered over the years?! But I don’t think so.

    Oh please Nuts! My own personal intimidation squad! x

    Addy: thank you, i think interesting in this case might read faintly mad: the soliciting in cyberspace and all that. I do see how it might sound …!x

    Harriet (marvellous name, quite the best, owning one of my own and all that): i think that’s a great story. And Mary Wesley is my mum’s favourite offer of pacification, given that she reads her and not JK. ‘Don’t worry darling, Mary Wesley was over 70 when she got her first book published’. Thanks Ma. I’ll just hang another 50 then shall I (I wish … considerably close to it than that: the 71, not the being published!)

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you Kit. I did so much of it last few days – soliciting – I put a huge rent in my fishnets! Bugger it.

    Oh I don’t know doglover, I think a bit of skirt lifting might draw all sorts of interest? and do you know my phone IS working. Doesn’t always, but is, given hours of pleading with local telephone company. perhaps I should solicit them too?

    Paradise: you’re absolutely right, that’s exactly what they’re like – long car journeys when you get out lumpen and irritable and full of cheap crisps. x

    thank you nappy – I shall persevere. if nothing else it gives me something to do: I can say at the end of the day, ‘god i had a tough day working cyber streets’.

    Thank you Rob. Thing is I’m not sure my patchy imagination could sustain a novel … think my attention span might get caught up in other things, like wondering what i might find to eat in the fridge rather than plot and character? x

  17. nmaha Says:

    Not publishing your work, is a loss for readers…… write beautifully and have a lovely topic ‘Africa’…at least it seems lovely and interesting to people who don’t live there, and instead read your blog


    Just SO frustrating isn’t it…..

    SELF PUBLISH… Why not?



    ps – You already have a captive market – I’ll buy one! Lx

  20. Marianne Says:

    It must be soul destroying, so all the more credit to you for keeping on trying. I really hope it pays off for you.

  21. Tattie Weasle Says:

    Everyone has said all the things I wanted to sayso only thing to reiterate is: Keep soliciting. You never know where it may lead!!!

  22. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you morethan. that’s kind.

    awww thanks Family Affairs – problem is self publish is sooooooooooooo expensive; need to make some bucks freelancing first. round and round we go …! x

    There’s a sort of steely bloodymindedness that develops, Marianne …

    Thank you Tattie, i shall, i shall hitch my skirt an nth of an inch higher and keep going! x

  23. Eternally Distracted Says:

    Solicit, solicit, solicit and if all else fails ran around the streets naked… it might help?!!

  24. 3limes Says:

    Keep going. I respect and admire you for putting yourself out there. After all you could have just stayed in bed!

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