I’ve made a new friend. It’s a cat. Her cute face came to the patio door and looked in at me with big appealing eyes. I could well understand the rationale, if there was any, for why she might be standing there trying to elicit an invitation to enter… there is a most bitter arctic wind presently cutting across the UK. It was a pretty black cat with a white spot on its nose. She evidently has a home, for she wore a collar. I was curious, so I sat still and became completely fascinated by how her ears could move round picking up sounds from all directions. They twitched and rotated like satellite dishes, quite capable of moving independently and often in opposite directions. Her big shiny eyes however never wavered and looked ahead directly into the room. We eventually caught ourselves looking at one another. She meowed, I responded and for a few moments we talked to each other in our respective foreign languages; the conclusion of which was that I conceded and let her in.
“Just for a few minutes, you understand”. I stood up and with my hand on the door lever, looking down at the upturned grateful face, added: “You do understand, it’s just for a bit”.
I opened the door and she hesitated, moving from side to side but not across the threshold. “Come on in if you’re coming… its cold”; perhaps sounding a bit irritated I suppose for having to be kept waiting. Another brief pause. Her ears twitched, moving as if listening out to hear whether there was any negative intention in the tone of my voice. After a brief upward look to check my face for more clues, she must have felt reassured as she slipped through the gap. Inside, with the door closed, a few sniffs later and with me encouraging her, she leapt onto my lap. Her paws were really cold. “No wonder you wanted to come in”; feeling her ears and talking affectionately into them. What followed then, after her initial circular pacing to find a comfortable orientation, was an intense stroking session, neck rubbing and ear caressing. The cat’s third eyelid drew over, a loud purr poured out and a little drop of dribble left her lips. She was in that moment in second heaven it seemed. The more she showed me that she was having a good time the more I wanted to stroke her and the better I felt. I enjoyed making her happy. But cats are independent creatures and once satisfied, as if sticking to our agreement, she jumped down and placed herself next to the door. “Till next time then?” as I pulled the door ajar and watched her go. Her tail was the last I saw of her. ”Adios” it seemed to say as, with a flick in my direction, the cats head dipped under the fence.
So, apart from sharing with you my news that I might have found a new friend, I have something else to report: something which is perhaps more relevant to my purpose and motivation for persevering with this blog. However, new insights can come from all of our experiences, whether feline or otherwise. So what is my other news?
Tra la lar… pleased to announce… wait for it… wait for it… I have my first real paperback copy of the book ‘Alice Wakes Up’; the book I completed in draft form just before Christmas. What an achievement eh? I’m so thrilled with it that I have to keep looking at it lying on the desk next to me. When my eye catches sight of the light bouncing off the cover, I just can’t resist the urge and feel compelled to pick it up and flick the pages over. The whizzing sound and the draught it causes against my cheek as I spread the leaves between my thumbs feels wonderful. All my own work… success at last… my own imagination captured in one neat volume. If I were a cat you would hear me purring with delight right now.
I got this hard copy printed through an American self-publishing site called Create Space. It was, as a site goes, relatively simple and clear to use. Unfortunately, the three-week delivery time taken to land a copy on the doormat here in the UK has, I think, struck them out as being a viable proposition. Who waits three weeks for anything these day? A bit frustrating, but hey ho… forwards… onwards… as they say, which is why I am now looking to achieve the same quality of printing with Lulu. Nothing is straightforward though or made easy is it? They don’t do the same sizes of book, so there are a few formatting issues to spend time working around. But I hope, with perseverence, they will at least be able to produce and deliver a copy much more efficiently. I will let you know how I get on.
It would have been so easy for me to have got irritated and complained about the three-week interlude, but the time given has forced me to take a break and re-evaluate my position. I believe I’ve used the time sensibly, like the cat did this morning before stepping over the threshold. I’ve tried to look ahead to see if I can identify anything that could possibly prevent me from getting where I want to be. I could make life more difficult in the short-term if I rushed ahead and dropped my guard; looking for a quick fix to get the job done. I have been thinking more about the contents of the query letter to be sent to literary agents and what, if asked, would be included in the submission sent to them. Research reveals that agents are likely to ask to see the first three chapters. I know that I only have a few seconds in which to persuade them to open the door to me. So during this forced break, I thought it would make sense to review the book by asking myself two questions: ‘Am I comfortable with what I have written… and can anything be improved upon?’ My head has been going round in circles. To help the process along I have re-read all the comments from those who have came back to me after downloading a copy of the original manuscript at Christmas. I’ve also re-run in my mind the conversations I’ve had over coffee with friends. I’ve tried to keep my mind as open as possible and really listen to what has… and hasn’t… been said. Looking at it from all angles, the result of my evaluation was that it would be appropriate to tweak and re-write the prologue, also elaborate on the ending. It was not an easy decision to make. The idea of having to re-write parts is depressing. Of course I don’t want the extra work. I’d rather not be bothered to be honest, but what I want in the short term is not as important as the long term goal. My priority, the utimate goal, is to produce a book of some quality that offers the reader a unique experience, which they can enjoy both in the moment and also afterwards. I want my readers to feel as good as the cat did on my lap.
So at this point in my jouney of trying to get a book published, I’d like to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you to those people who did come back and post their comments. With your help ‘Alice Wakes Up’ is really developing into something rather special and, I’m pleased to say, is taking me on my own little Adventure into Wonderland.
Photo by jespahjoy