Today on the blog, I’m pleased to welcome Megan Peel, author of The Fabulous Phartlehorn, Affair which was published by Walker Books in February 2012. Megan has written some lovely postcards to her unpublished self.
Dear Megan (aged about 5),
I’m sorry you’re upset after failing your new school’s reading test, and getting sent to the “remedial reader’s club” (whoever thought of that stupid name!) Don’t be sad. I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of those boring books you’ve been given. Roger Red Hat would be enough to put anyone off reading. My advice is to go to your local library and look under ‘D’ for Dahl, or ‘B’ for Blyton, that will get you reading in no-time.
PS – when you’ve whipped through those books, you could also try asking the librarian about a detective called Nancy.
Dear Megan (aged about 10)
I hope you can take your nose out of that book about Anne Boleyn for long enough to read this. Your dad tells me (you probably don’t realise how much he boasts about you) that you want to be an author. That’s great, but don’t be itching to grow up too fast. All this weird and wacky childhood stuff is going to be really important material. Even the things that are making you sad will end up being useful in stories. Take that crazy nanny of yours, the one who’s a bit like Mary Poppins, only with a Mohican and a robin reliant with a hole in the floor, well she’s a book in herself! In fact, the most useful thing you could write now would be a diary.
PS – you probably don’t want to tell too many people you think you’re Anne Boleyn’s reincarnation!
Dear Megan, (aged about 15),
Time for some tough talking: I know your hormones are raging, but all this mooning over boys is quite frankly embarrassing, as are all the terrible yearning poems you are writing about them. Why not try writing about something other than yourself: like politics or nature? Also, you might want to think about reigning in your floral descriptions, just a little bit. You know all those long letters you wrote to that boy Marc from Florence. Well, one day, in about twelve years’ time, you’re going to bump into him again, and he’s going to tell you he’s kept those letters and you’re going to squirm with embarrassment. If you want to learn the truth about love, and how to write well about Florence, you should read Edith Wharton,
PS – stop making eyes at that poor young history teacher. One of the many reasons he is ignoring you is because he is a good and kind man. If he were to make eyes back at you he would be a creep, and therefore not worth fancying.
Dear Megan, (aged nineteen),
I am really glad you’re loving university (it seems too good to be true, being encouraged to lie around on the college lawn and read novels all day!), but sad to hear you have lost your confidence in your own writing. Maybe it’s true you’ll never write a novel as good as The Waves or a poem as good as September Song, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying completely. I know you chickened out of going along to that creative writing group, but I think you should try and pluck up the courage again. I promise you that everyone there will be feeling as anxious as you are about not being William Wordsworth.
PS – try not to go too mad with that new cheque book….
Dear Megan (aged twenty seven),
I’m so happy you’ve finally started writing again. It’s hard to find the time when you’re working such long hours in advertising, but trust me all these early mornings and late nights will pay off in the end. Don’t fret about that Arvon children’s writing course you’ve booked yourself on, and whether it’s a waste of one of your precious week’s holiday: I promise you it will end up being one of the best weeks of your life, and the best gift you’ve ever given yourself as a writer. Going on that course will inspire you to sign up to a poetry evening class when you get back, and that poetry course will change your life in more ways than you can imagine. I don’t want to spoil the end of the story for you, but let’s just say, it’s amazing who you meet when you start doing the thing that makes you happy.
PS - I know you sometimes feel like you are wasting time working in an office, but the truth is that when you finally become a published author (yes, that’s right it IS going to happen), it will come in very handy to be able to work freelance in advertising to earn a bit of extra money!
Dear Megan, (aged thirty two)
So you finally took the plunge, bought a stack of brown envelopes, and sent the first three chapters of that children’s novel, out to some agents. … and now, you’ve got a lot of rejections.
Honestly, that’s normal I promise. Believe it or not, the fact that some of them actually took the time to write you a personal rejection (rather than the photocopied slip that most of them sent…) is really promising. You’ve still got a couple of agents left to hear back from, yes, I know it’s been months and months since you posted it to them, but it really can take them that long to fish you out of the slush pile. All you need is ONE agent, who believes in your book. The agent who believes in your book will be the best one to sell it.
Hang on in there, it’s not long to go now, I promise,
Dear Megan, (aged thirty two),
So your agent says she’s getting some interest in your novel. Congratulations! That is fantastic!!! The morning when you will walk into a large London bookshop, pick your book up from the shelf and stroke it, before suddenly coming over all embarrassed, and running out again, is just around the corner.
Be warned though, getting your book published will not solve all life’s problems. In fact, it might even create some new ones, like the fact that now you’re going to want people to actually read it; but when they do read it, you’ll worry whether they like it; and then there’s the fact that you’re going to have to write another one: this time to a dead-line.
PS - You’ve got this idea that writing your second book will be easier. I am sorry to have to break this to you, but it won’t be. Because you know that man you met at your poetry evening class, you’re going to have a baby, and that baby, well, she doesn’t like sleeping. …
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