There are many unusual things about where I’m sitting right now. That my car is, just down the road, racking up charges at a rate only central London could justify. That nobody, really, knows exactly where I am: my parents, and MindReader, have some idea, of course, but I am basically entirely alone in a corner of London. That the sun is shining bright in July, without a British-raincloud in sight.
But the main thing, of course, is that I am waiting for a literary agent who would like to represent me.
I have not been pinching myself or thinking I am dreaming. It’s funny how things happen incrementally, something I’m sure I have written about before. There were several hurdles between me and my literary agent, and I’ve only just jumped the last one. First I had to get over the rejection of my first novel and write the second book that some agents were interested in receiving. I didn’t procrastinate, and I did finish four solid drafts between November and May. And then the next hurdle – I read it back to myself, in Mexico, a couple of days after I sent my queries, even though I’d put it away and read it before: it was different this time, because it was ready. And suddenly I was two hurdles down out of four: I had written it, and I had enjoyed it as a reader with some distance. And I’ve been reading for almost 30 years, so I trust reader-me’s judgment.
And then the full requests came in, and then The Email. The Email was not like the emails I got last autumn, the hemming and hawing and ‘send me your next books’ and ‘I love the writing but I’m not sure the concept is big enough’. It was not from the agent I had most contact with back then. But it was unambiguously positive. It was the first important email of my life that I didn’t open immediately. It was THAT important. I saw the unread message, the black, emboldened text and I left it. Then I opened it when I should have been working, and I couldn’t stop reading.
And now here I am a few days later, on a sunny Monday in London.
My agent joins me five minutes later, and there follows possibly one of the best afternoons of my life. We talk – over cake and tea and sunshine – for three hours about my plans as a writer and how my (hypothetical!) foreign and tv rights would work, where the idea for my book came from. About my next book, my blog, who I would compare myself to. And we discuss the characters – my characters, who I made up entirely on a November night in my bedroom, have been the subject of meetings and conversations I didn’t know were happening as my manuscript was considered by agents and readers – whether Sara and Robbie are believable, likeable, real. Every now and again I exchange a glance with myself in the sunny window of the London cafe, unable to believe my bloody luck.