The Story so far
You are a misguided person who thinks that they can write. This notion started as a child, when you came second in a national essay competition sponsored by a chocolate company. Thus was born a terrible confusion in your life; a conflation between literary approbation and chocolate. From this point on, the more that you were not published, the more you needed to satisfy your brain’s reward centre with chocolate.
You have laid waste to a good sized forest while writing four novels, five radio plays and a batch of short stories that re-defined the word ‘awful’. During these experiences you have come into contact with literary agents. The results have been traumatic on both sides. If only you could get published, you might yet stop yourself turning into a fleshly homage to the British Library.
So, in order to halt this pernicious cycle of literary aspiration and gluttony, you have signed on for a ‘Writing Weekend’ at a ‘country house hotel’; hoping thereby to impress a literary agent with your whale-sized book pitch. (see previous post) And (what luck!) you have found yourself alone in the dark with Glenda Golightly, a Valkyrie of the London publishing world. What’s more, the stability afforded by her pair of strappy Jimmy Choo’s is so precarious, that she is leaning heavily on your arm.
Shaking with excitement at the thought of having a lit agent’s full and undiverted attention, you have taken Glenda’s arm in order to guide her to the ‘annexe’. This could be ‘it’. You won’t wait for your appointment with her tomorrow morning, instead you may as well take this opportunity to haul in the ‘monsterpitch’ (see previous post). After all you’ve been practising it for hours. How does it start? You take a breath in order to introduce yourself and say how much you admire her as an agent. But Glenda totters a few steps and then shrieks.
‘How the sodding hell is one supposed to find one’s way here? It’s like a maze designed by a paranoid.’
She continues in this vein, cursing the organisers of this ‘amateurish festival of the mediocre’ . Pulling down scorn on the venue, which is, ‘faux Georgian’, the ‘calamitous train service’ that brought her here so late, the ‘zombie’ taxi driver who got lost on the way to this, ‘barren hell’. And the final insult, finding herself, ‘despatched to the far end of the grounds, to the equivalent of an outside toilet by cretinous staff, not including you dear’, she says mysteriously.
So, wandering together along the bewildering paths, you become the human equivalent of a badly functioning satnav with a dyspeptic harpie on your arm.
Instead of riveting Glenda to your complex plot, you spend this time apologising to her for shortcomings which are more hers than yours. She stabs you twice in the shin with her heels, and manages to hog the path so that you are tipped off-balance into a muddy puddle. Laughing obsequiously, as the water seeps into your jeans, you think desperately that this may be the last chance to introduce the theme of your book.
‘You know that’s a funny coincidence, that’s how I start the second part of my novel, when the main character falls into a slurry pit and triggers a dream sequence.’
‘What the hell are you talking about?’
She thrusts the handle of her suitcase towards you.
‘Here; you ought to be carrying this, I’m a guest and it’s full of these bloody awful writing samples that I’ve been sent by godawful people who want to ‘pitch’ to me.’
Glenda pronounces the word ‘pitch’ with her nose wrinkled as if she had encountered the foulest of smells.You take the suitcase handle and try to pull it alongside your own.
‘Are they bad, then; these samples?’
‘You have no idea Ducky, lucky that you’ve got a proper job.’
Your suspicion that Glenda Golightly is under the impression that you are part of the staff is now confirmed. You stagger for the last few yards, drag her suitcase up several flights of stairs and see her safely to her room.
After spending an uneasy night alternately banging your head against the wall and whimpering, you decide that you will shove your pitch under her door. But in the morning, as you are crouched in this very act, the door is whisked open.
‘Ah, there you are’, she says and hands you the suitcase once more, ‘Hurry up, I’ve got a ‘pitching session’ with some idiot after breakfast.’
You pick up her suitcase, knowing that the ‘idiot’ is you.