Just in case someone didn’t hear me shouting it from the rooftops of Facebook on Monday, I have an agent. Yes, a literary agent has agreed to represent my novel, Ida’s Children. That’s a big step forward for Ida and me, as she’s experienced and respected and someone who knows the publishing business, and I feel confident handing Ida over to her.
It’s also a relief because it means all that rewriting was worth it. Last year, this agent gave me reams of feedback, for which I was very grateful. I took it on board because I could see changes were needed—I knew my book wasn’t as good as it could be.
I returned to the drawing board and gave it another shot. The type of stories I like to read tell the emotional journey of the characters, and the plot is there only to serve that. Going back to the drawing board and rewriting Ida made me search for that emotional story and tell it more truly.
It was hard, teeth-gnashingly so, but it’s done now, and I can relax—for a while, at least.
Getting to this point has taken four-and-a-half years. It’s also taken a village:
There was my first writing group of Emily Paull, Kristen Levitzke, and Glen Hunting, who read early and very shitty excerpts from Ida. I don’t know how they were never discouraging in their feedback, but they weren’t.
When I was applying for Varuna, there were Iris Lavell, who helped me sharpen the first fifty pages, and Rosemary Stevens, who told me what to include in my cover letter. Without them I wouldn’t have been awarded the Varuna residency.
There was Carol Major at Varuna, who read the full manuscript and told me all the things wrong with it in such a gentle way that I didn’t feel criticised or disheartened.
There was Jennifer Kremmer at Book Anvil who generously gave up her time to read Ida and give me hundreds of pointers.
There were Fremantle Press and the Judges of the 2014 TAG-Hungerford Award who shortlisted Ida for the award. Even though she didn’t win, the shortlisting gave me hope that my story might have potential, and motivated me to keep going.
There was Natasha Lester who was at the end of a telephone or email, and who shared her knowledge and experience freely and generously.
There were Michelle Johnson and Jacquie Garton-Smith, my fellow medico-writers, who over the past year have read and re-read countless iterations of Ida, and countless new, and sometimes absurd, plot developments, and who have never rolled their eyes or complained. I couldn’t have rewritten Ida without them.
There were Marlish Glorie, Lily Malone, Monique Mulligan, and Emily Paull, who read the most recent draft and gave me considered feedback before I sent it back to my agent. Dear Emily deserves a medal for reading Ida three times.
There are my children, who’ve somehow managed to survive while their mother has spent time with Ida and her family instead of them. The fact they’re fed and clothed is due to ready-made meals and my husband who, in addition to working, has cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, made school lunches, and generally sustained the family over the past few years.
Ida’s Children might never be published, but the fact she’s got this far is due to all of these people. I want to thank them from the bottom of my very swollen heart.
I also want to thank everyone who’s encouraged me along the way. That includes every reader and commenter on this blog or Facebook or in person, and anyone who’s given me advice or shared their writing story or done or said or written anything that’s kept me motivated. Your support has been invaluable.
Right now, I’m so hopeful. I don’t want to count my chickens before the hens are in a stable relationship, but I can’t help it. I can’t help but dream.
Because that’s how it all started: with a dream.