Things I don't want you to know

This column strives for a reputation of being frank and upfront - the 'we're all in this together' type of thing.

Of course, like all things that strive for a reputation, it hides more than it reveals.

I've written about rejection ... as though one story winging its way back from a US SF mag was the sum of it. Tell you about too much stuff rejected and you'll begin to doubt my top pro credentials. When did Rushdie and Amis last get a rejection slip (though in fairness to my reputation rejections do now come as personalized letters rather than printed slips. Beat that!)

I keep schtum on agents ... though some day this column will let loose on a 'living and dying with agents' series. A writer with no hope in his agent bewailed to me recently that the days were gone when you ditched an agent for even a useless one is better than no agent at all. I could debate that point, though won't. Me, I wait for my agent to return an email from three weeks ago, and a further phone call from last week in which I was simply checking whether I was still actively being represented by her.

I sent off a grant proposal last Thursday, looking for funding from the Society of Authors to pay me through these last months of writing Cromozone. Why don't I want you to know something as simple as that? It's just that if I start to tell of the full range of proposals I put out into the world, you'll start to guess how few of them come off. My 'professional' way of going about such things is to give each application etc two hours at most, mail it off and forget about it unless it comes through. That way not too much time is wasted.

Good news of the weeked? Writers are seeking to boycott this year's Hay on Wye festival, as a protest at major funding from Nestle, who are going to wrap their logo around the children's tent. The festival director was seeming to be happy to be wooed by me for a few weeks, we had a little correspondence going until he got a copy of On Sacred Mountains (well I presume he did), since when silence. So I'm spared the decision about whether to boycott something that doesn't want me in any case. I guess I can use all that time I've been saved to simply get on and write.

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