Some time last year I read a book by an Australian girl who had moved to Paris, after falling in love with a Frenchman. Amidst the general unpheaval and emotional strain of immersing herself n a culture totally different to her own (and boy, believe me, after spending a month in Paris I'm not too sure that it isn't easier to handle the desert), she also decided to try her hand at freelance journalism. Having worked in televised media in Australia, she felt certain she had what it took to become a successful journalist. The following months of her life made for fascinating reading - and induced something of a sense of horror at the same time. The poor girl sent off proposal after proposal, by fax, phone, letter and email, only to be continually rejected - or not contacted in response at all. In the end, she took some kind of induction course for aspiring freelance writers, which also promised an opening in the field. She is now highly successful (and still lives in Paris).
When things get really lousy, I think of that book. I am fed up with getting on this site and moaning about trying to get hold of money or funding; so I shall try to lighten up a bit and, as the same time, keep you posted on what is happening.
The Royal Geographical Society have posted their final selection, and I am not in it. Oddly, I am not remotely bothered by this - I have been utterly appalled at the lack of professionalism involved in their decision making process (they are something like five months over schedule at the moment), and I also feel that perhaps our perspectives don't tally. In the meantime, I have applied to the NATIONAL Geographical Society - for some reason, I had never found the section of their site for grant applications in all of my previous trawling. Still, that one is a long shot.
I went on to Excess Baggage last week which was a marvellous experience, although anyone who listened will testify to the rotten case of nerves I had at the start -it took me a minute to get a handle on it all! But Sandy Toksvig and all of her crew were incredibly kind, as were both John Pilkington and the Ambassador to Rome and his wife, the other guests. Hopefully I will be more relaxed if ever I go on again.
I was utterly determined to capitalise on this little bit of publicity in the following week, so I sent off a frantic rush of emails with proposals. To my absolute amazement, the Sunday Times agreed to give me a shot - at their travel section. After a day of complete euphoria, and two days of typing my butt off and being a complete psycho to all and sundry, I submitted my paltry efforts and stood by chewing nails.
I got the nicest rejection letter ever. I am sure that is what happens when editors are really well paid - they have the time to tell you your stuff is crap in a polite fashion rather than just not answering, like the lovely Australian ones (yes, Jane Reddy, that would be you, honey.). The even better thing is that they pay you to reject your work. On this basis, I can actually live on one rejection per week. I'm going for it.
I guess one of the problems is that my story doesn't really suit the travel sections; I am trying to find where it does go. The response I have had from nearly all of those who work in Travel, is that my story is too complex for their section - they want brief descriptions of places and great weekends away with a quirky twist, not six months in the Sahara with camels. I just have to find where I fit, and try to market it accordingly.
The funny thing is they all say they think it would make a great book. I want to scream that I HAVE a great book, but that no major publisher wants it because I do not have a big enough public platform to sell it from; in the meantime, UNTIL someone publishes it, it is very difficult to find the money need in order to carry on walking, so that I can cross the desert and GET the public profile. That was a lot of capital letters, wasn't it?
Frankly, I think the solution is to just go with one of the smaller publishers (my agent has really not liked this option because he thinks it should go with, I guess, someone who will pay proper money for it) and hustle, teach, pull beers, and plug away with articles in order to find the money to keep walking. I will, one way or another.
The other piece of news that I suppose is long overdue on this site is regarding Gary. Put simply, we are no longer walking together, and, for the moment, he is pursuing other options. So, I will be tackling the next stage alone.
In the meantime I fired off another squillion emails with proposals this morning. It is pouring with rain here in London, despite the fact that it is attempting to be Spring, and at least I don't look out of the window and wish I had the money and time to be playing in the sun. I figure there will be plenty of time for all of that after I have made the money to carrry on walking!
MBarak has been emailing me through his cousin, reminding me about Chamelette, Mimi, Ali baba, Zarwel and Habil. As if I could forget. I think of them every day, and Madani and MBarak, and count the nights until I can be back walking again. In the meantime, I think of that girl in Paris, sending off day after day with no success, and I remind myself that it took her two years to get anywhere - and that in the end, she learned that her lack of success had nothing to do with her writing ability, but rather with her knowledge as to how to approach the process. I am taking that to heart, and reading all I can and trying to refine my approach daily.
I am staying with another mate of mine, Steve, who has been the soul of generosity and loaned me a spare room and the use of his fabulous iMac (man those things are so sexy!). My old landlady Steph is just up the road, and it is a huge joy to sit with her and Steve and curse the media in general - and take on board their suggestions, which they give with endless patience. I might miss the desert, but, oh, the bliss of good mates!
So, enough procrastinating now, here goes another go at rejection...