Friday, 29 March 2013

Finding An Agent: The Writer's Holy Grail?

I've been writing for... let's just say a long time. Somewhere on the way I purchased my Writers' & Artists' Yearbook  and read that the first and most essential writer's accessory was the Literary Agent. It made sense. Literary Agents had access to publishers, and I did not. So, I prettied up the novels, sent them out to a few agents with names mostly in the A-Cs, and waited for the offers; celebrations would involve bubbles.

Rejections poured in, or worse, nothing at all. First and second novels beat a hasty retreat to the back of the drawer; I regrouped.

I bought more books, this time on the craft of writing. I read literature I loved with a different kind of attention. I enrolled in workshops and classes, and the next novel, Peter Peter, was one I was proud of. Again I sent it out. This time responses were more positive, sometimes falling into the 'rave rejection' category, but the consensus was that its unconventional, somewhat episodic structure, and its (relatively) quiet plot, made for a difficult sell. [Don't worry, Peter, I'm still keeping the faith.] But I was working on my next novel, Michaelangelos, too busy to be too disappointed. I finished it and sent it out to the 3 or 4 agents and publishers who were kind enough to offer to read it having rejected Peter Peter. And yesterday, I received 'the phone-call' from Ger Nichol; I have finally acquired an agent.

It is a wonderful feeling to receive recognition for one's writing, especially when it comes from a professional who is prepared to promote and defend it. I am looking forward to working on the manuscript with her; already I like her suggestions and her presentation of them.

But is it the holy grail I expected? It is one less not-actually-writing, writing-related activity to worry about, and one more step on the path to publication which, in my head, represents the justification for the time I spend not doing housework, not being the yummiest mummy on the block, not out earning an honest crust. More than anything, it's a relief.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Necessary Fiction SaltWater Review

My review of Lane Ashfeldt's SaltWater is up on Necessary Fiction today. The collection opens with a story set in West Cork, and coincidentally, when I began working on the review, the house my grandfather was born in, Sunnycove, Leap, came onto the market (above). Perfect writers retreat, no? 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Swing Out Sister

I'm very proud to announce that my sister is the winner of the Writing West Midlands Short Fiction Competition! Visit her blog and read the story here: RAZAMATAZZ

Monday, 18 March 2013

Questions and Answers

As threatened... My Question and Answer session with Mel Ulm at The Reading Life is up for your delectation!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Irish Short Story Month

I was delighted to be asked to participate in Irish Short Story Month over at The Reading Life, Mel Ulm's incredibly prolific, and wide-ranging blog. It's my first experience as reviewee, and you can read it here auslanders-by-paula-mcgrath. And as if that was not enough excitement for one day, it will be followed up soon by a Question and Answer session, which I've been agonising over. Watch this space...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Trying To Get Myself... published In mslexia

My memoir piece Trying To Get Myself Raped And Murdered was selected by Rachel Cusk for 'New Writing' in the current issue of mslexia (Issue 57), and you can read her thoughtful and insightful Judge's Essay here. But then, I'm biased by her nice words about my piece:

'A young woman’s discovery that men are predators rather than protectors is brilliantly evoked in ‘Trying to get myself raped and murdered’ by Paula McGrath, an account of her experience tending bar in an oil field worked by Samoan labourers.'

Unfortunately it's not online; you'll have to purchase a copy if you're dying to read it...