And just like that, we’re home. It feels very normal being here, writing a post and letting you guys know I’m back, but I must say the holiday ended far too soon for my liking… Shanghai was very much the home-away-from-home I expected it would be, but the extent of that immediate knowingness exceeded even my pretty high expectations. I loved it, absolutely loved it. We both did. I loved the firewall a whole lot less – I couldn’t access any blogs – imagine how behind I am! – let alone update you here on my own, and the commitments I had on the Varuna blog became a logistical nightmare for poor Simonne, who had to email me comments that came through in response to my final post, and then had to upload each of my responses. Not recommended, but we muddled through. And the final post itself proved contentious – more than I anticipated it would. It turns out I miscalculated a number of things, and I guess I am still working through some of the fallout, which, though not nuclear, certainly changed the landscape somewhat. That all happened while I was away, and the timing was unfortunate to say the least. Next time Llew and I take a holiday, I’m going to try to ensure neither of us has work commitments of any description by the time we take off.
There are so many things, so many impressions and darts of memory, that I want to share with you about Shanghai. Unfortunately it’s occurred to me that I have to be careful. In a practical sense, I really can’t reveal very much here because I’d be doing myself out of paid travel writing work. I know that really, truly sucks – and I’m very sorry because there’s nothing I’d like better than to give you a full blow-by-blow – but I can’t use previously published material in a travel piece, and even just writing about it here qualifies. So… with that in mind, I will just say it was so incredibly cool,unbelievably friendly, utterly delicious. We met wonderful people. It’s somewhere I could and would live in a shot. Shanghai extended the warmest welcome, and we ran straight into its embrace at full speed.
I don’t know where to start trying to bring you up to date with everything. Two pieces of bad news on the writing front: MS # 1 was rejected by the same agent who rejected it early this year. Some of you may recall she indicated she’d look at it again if I made significant changes; I made significant changes, and she looked at it again, but it turns out she doesn’t much like my story, or my characters, or my writing. I’m still glad I showed it to her again rather than sending it to a new agent – I’ve lost nothing, since she’d already passed. It’s still with another agency, and they too passed on it previously, albeit back when it was a first draft and was woefully unfit to be taken seriously. Again my thinking is that if they pass, well, nothing new lost. But it’s an important indicator to me that perhaps I need to go back to the drawing board before I try anyone else, anyone new, anyone who hasn’t seen it before. I get the feeling this other agency is going to pass, I just feel I’m on another round of rejection, and if they do, then I won’t immediately send it anywhere else. I think I’ll sit on it, and let it rest, and then go back to the drawing board. Meanwhile the beginnings of #2 didn’t make the cut in the inaugural Varuna Publisher Fellowships. I thought there was a chance #2 might outperform #1, but at this stage, both of them are headed precisely nowhere. Unlike me – I’ve just been to Shanghai and back!