Here I am trying to be all Zen and Pollyanna-like in a brand new year and someone has to come along and upset my apple cart. For the first few years at Nick’s primary school I used to hang out with a group of the other mothers. We had quite a close-knit group going there for a while and used to meet regularly. However, as is usually the case in a group of women there is someone who likes to stir the pot. Jane was that person. All barley-sugar, fluffy bunny motherly goodness on the outside and black, shrivelled, take a bite out of my poisoned apple badness on the inside.
Jane and I had a competitive thing going there for a bit. We both wanted to get our books published. We came from totally different backgrounds – Jane was upper crust, private school all the way, marry a barrister and have 2.5 children what ho! And me, well, you know what side of the tracks I was on.
I read some of Jane’s stuff back in the day and it was good. Not the kind of stuff I would normally read – all that woman finding herself type of thing while throwing in as many references to classical literature as possible and using words like ocelot and obelisk and oleaginous (it is too a real word) and setting it in a university or a think tank so the characters can appear all contemplative and self-important. It was not my flavour, but it had potential.
Jane wrote several drafts of this intellectual, highly stylized novel of hers and ended up getting an agent. I was pleased for her especially as at the time I also had an agent and a pending book deal on the table. It kind of felt like a level playing field until the deal I almost had went kaput. I also fell out with my agent. Jane swanned about a bit but for many years had trouble getting a deal too.
Fast forward to today. Jane rang me. She has written another book which she says is totally different from the first one, although she did use rosaceous and rook in the one sentence while describing it, so I’m not so sure if much actually has changed. The good news for her and if I’m honest, slightly irritating news for me is that she has a deal with Random House and her book is coming out in April.
I’m glad for her, really I am, but it irks me. She knows people in publishing. She plays tennis with them. Has cocktails with them on her boat. Her kids go to one of the top schools in Sydney with their kids. I know I shouldn’t be so uncharitable but I can’t help but think that all that schmoozing has paid off for her.
The thing that really got on my goat was that she has just completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and believes that is why she got published. Apparently, I will never get published without a Master’s degree.
I’ll show her.
It may not have been her intention but Jane has given me a massive kickstart. I am going to prove to her that writing a novel is not just about who you know and what you know. Nor is it about using exotic, egregious and epicanthus in the one sentence.
It is about telling a story.
Game on, bitch.