They’re very cunning, those Virgin Broadband types… when I got home after writing yesterday’s post at the laundry, I called them up, went through the whole bloody menu selection thing, finally got through to technical assistance, and was greeted by a recorded message saying, ‘You may be experiencing difficulties accessing the internet at the present time. We are working to correct this problem.’ See? CUNNING! You might think the fight went out of me after that, but not really. I still gave poor MJ a serve when I called back last night. Especially when she told me to ‘Go find a Windows computer.’ When I explained that this Mac is my business, that all my work is conducted via this computer, she suggested I borrow a Windows computer from a friend. Really. That was the advice. And when I asked if she would call me when the service problem was rectified, the answer was no. According to MJ, I could just keep trying to connect to the internet (a shortcut to violence, trust me), or I could keep calling them back. Wonderful. I’m so glad I’m paying for this call, MJ. And this broadband service, which – if I have this straight – you’re failing to provide.
Anyway, they seem to have fixed the problem, I am back online, and my editor has just called in another short piece (500 words… that ain’t nuttin’ but every little bit helps), so let’s just take a big breath and move on. I’ll tell you what I did yesterday after filing my stories. I decided to bite the bullet and throw MS #2 into the Varuna Publisher Fellowships. As I think I’ve explained elsewhere, it’s incomplete. In fact, I’m only about a third of the way through the very first draft. But the information available on the Varuna website is very clear on the point that the MS can be at any stage of development, and they only require the first 20 pages, so… I sent them. The sole reason I have entered is to remind myself that there will indeed come a day when I am no longer rewriting and restructuring and rewriting and restructuring and rewriting and restructuring #1. This second MS is my personal version of the light at the end of the tunnel. It gives me a glimmer of hope every time I look at it, the hope being that one day, one fine day, I’ll be working on this story instead of the other.
It’s not that I don’t like the characters or the story in #1 anymore, don’t get me wrong. It’s really not their fault. It’s just that it’s been such a messy, reeking dog’s vomit trying to get it done, and time passes, then more time, until you think, ‘Oh god, not this again… please make it go away.’ My enthusiasm has waned. But #2, well, it’s like the fresh bloom of new romance, I’m all giddy and silly with it. ‘Hey,’ I think to myself, ‘I like these characters! This is fun!’ – yeah, as you can see it’s very early days. They’ll shortly bare their fangs at me, don’t you worry, they’ll eventually turn into disobedient, vindictive ghouls, you can be sure of that, but right now – right now – everything is peachy between us. And it’s because they’re NOT in #1, nor are they anything to do with it. At this very moment in time, that’s all they have to do to make me swoon. Be different characters in another story. That’s it. They do that one thing for me, and I will do anything for them.
So off they go, out into the world on their very first outing. I feel a little emotional, like I should be standing at a gate somewhere waving them off. I did give the envelope a little ‘good luck’ peck before I slid it into the postbox yesterday, so I guess that counts. ‘Play nice with the other manuscripts!’ I should have called down the slot. ‘Be sure to watch your manners!’
And now it’s done. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t win a fellowship, because I can easily convince myself (I’m quite good at self-delusion – I have to be) it’s only because it’s not finished yet. Not to worry. I knew that. It won’t damage me, whereas if I put #1 in there, as I mentioned a few comment streams back, and it didn’t get anywhere, I’d be in all sorts. It was just too grim a prospect for me to bear. Entering the first 20 pages of #2 was the perfect compromise. And those new characters were perfectly happy to go. But then, that’s why I like them. Beneath their coarse and bruised exteriors, they’re really very sociable. I hope they’ll have a fine time up at Varuna, even if they are eventually sent home for being naughty.