There’s sometimes a moment when the optimists’ saying ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ comes good. I had thought this only applied to those successfully playing the stock markets while waiting. I was writing my novel while waiting to be published, which as a career option sucks like a Dyson factory. Of course I have another job.

I recently completed an umpteenth FINAL draft of my novel and sent it out to agents and publishers. Some of who had the decency to not even pretend in having read it; replying upon receipt that following careful consideration (of less than 2 seconds) that they felt it unsuitable. The rejections were coming in so quick they were wrestling one another to reach my in-box.

However, and this is obviously coming, or I’d be rocking and mumbling to myself alone, I got a positive response from a publisher. In fact I got two. I’d like to say they were fighting over me, and perhaps one morning I’ll wake up to this dream, but one was a vanity publisher that required my financial help with their promoting of it. I can only presume they referred to leaning back in chairs while counting cash as promotional activities. Having politely refused their offer of ripping me off, I received another email from an independent publisher, who had apparently read it AND liked it. This was a combination that my psyche and internalised constructs of the world following years of rejection had not encountered before.

Some research quickly revealed them to be a) not completely insane, b) enthusiastic enough not to require me to bankroll my own promotion, and most importantly, c) were genuinely interested in my novel, the Life Assistance Agency.

After re-reading their email eight times to ensure it wasn’t as grammatically incorrect as at least the first four drafts of my novel, I let out a whoop that did little more than demonstrate my lack of practice in doing so.

It’s vaguely alarming to discover that fortune does indeed favour the brave, or at least those willing to rewrite the same story 8 times, leave countless drafts on hard drives of NHS computers, and divert tax payers money from health to the arts by running office printers dry.

Mind you, bravery and foolishness have always danced close. It’s disconcerting, that a book that had been attracting enthusiasm generally reserved for trying to read a newspaper in the wind, is now liked. It feels like having pursued some mythical creature, only to discover the yeti is real. Now I’m keeping mum off the line in case Spielberg’s casting agent is trying to get through,

I’m so delighted that I’m struggling to suppress a smile, which complete strangers won’t want to wipe off. I’ve waited so long for this day that the lack of fireworks coursing through the sky is vaguely disconcerting. The world is still turning. Oyster cards still sap my bank account like nets leak wind. I’m still tripping over toddlers, with the sound of cheerios crunch underfoot, as opposed to white sand and crisp Seychelles towel vouchers. There’s still only 24 hours in the day, yet only 7 at night, and I managed to cut my nose during shaving a few hours after I heard, which made it a day of two firsts.

Talk about coming down to earth with a bump. The very evening after I met my publisher, I was an out of hours social worker who spent the night at A&E trying to persuade a woman onto an ambulance until 6:30am, while all staff, inc. police and security refused to touch her, despite her being on a sec.2 which allows for reasonable force to be used. ‘Don’t you know I’m getting published‘ I wanted to scream, but the professionals were too busy avoiding work to actually do any. I drove home with my head in my hands, if that’s possible. I was so tired I have no idea how I did it.

I can now easily spot writers recently told they are to be published. And I don’t just mean in the mirror. No longer do they fear the question: ‘So, what do you do?” Where once there was a mumbling: ‘I’m writing a novel..’, like it’s a guilty secret shared with the wrong person, before adding, ‘But really I’m a social worker.’ There is now a puffed chest, and the search for opportunities to shoehorn, ‘I’m getting published,’ into conversations that haven’t even started yet.

I’m unsure what to do first – get a t-shirt printed with VINDICATED, or I’m Published on it. Then comes the issue of when to celebrate. On the initial news? This would have involved popping a bottle of champagne in a cinema full of half-term toddlers trying to decipher the script of Hotel Transylvania 2. Or perhaps when I signed the contract, which was at 8am, not the ideal time for a celebratory drink unless it’s the last one of the night.

Either way, the real celebration will be in the moment I finally pick up the paperback in Autumn 2016. My name will be on the cover, although all the people who’ve helped along the way deserve their place too. Good things do come to those who wait. It just depends upon what you’re doing while you wait.

Rather excitingly, the novel can be Pre-ordered here:

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and here:

http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-life-assistance-agency/

 

 

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