At the risk of being controversial, there are times when I should just ditch my mother, not the real one of course, but that ‘censoring voice of mother’ that whispers in my ear, “Norma dear, nice girls aren’t that pushy.”
Take last Thursday as an example. I’m at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Industry Panel event. http://www.rna-uk.org/The three speakers have finished answering our questions and we’re having tea and a chat. There’s a really approachable agent and I’m dying to talk to her, but it is sooooo hard. I saunter up, she’s talking to another so, trying my hardest not to look like I’m waiting in line, I admire the paintings on the wall behind her head. Fiddling with a biscuit, I make inconsequential conversation with another writer, who’s also trying to look like she just admiring the paintings.
Both of us fully know the truth. We really want to tell this guardian of a gateway to successful publication, our books are, ‘the next best thing,’ and she’d be mad not to grab us while she can.
And when I get to speak to the agent, what do I say – not a practised hard sell about my brilliance as a writer, or even that I’ve a finished book – oh no, I mumble something about how awful it must be to be approached by yet another pushy author. The agent, newly arrived from New York, where I guess they do things differently, gives me a quizzical look. I make some weakish joke about having my mother on my shoulder – she looks at me again as if I’m mad and I retire - to kick myself. In a previous existence I’ve actually run assertiveness training courses, I’ve advised others what to do, I know all the theory – so why the hell can’t I do it for myself. Eh?