Circle of Life community garden, Salthill, Galway – from galwaytourism.ie
I private locked another blog post where I was processing literary world trauma. This is because while this is ongoing work for me, I want to change up the narrative a bit.
I’m thinking about connections. For me it’s a dirty word. A thing used by hypersocially aware and highly neurotypical people to maneouvre their way through the literary world using “someone who knows someone”, “a wink and a nod” and various dirty tricks. Today I read an agent’s blog saying that if you wanted a sure deal, “tell us that Megan Mason, J.K. Rowling, Brian Eno, Marian Keyes… Anne Enright, Sally Rooney… and Margaret Atwood have all read your manuscript, adore your book and have offered gushing endorsements, the list of which you provide below” and I was enraged, because that appears to have nothing to do with literary merit and all about whom you know and how you were placed to know them. (Not to mention I wouldn’t be seen dead with a JK Rowling endorsement on any cover of mine, because she’s a horrible transphobe, but that’s by the way)
But now I’m submitting work, I realise that a rather poor-mouth pride in Disdaining All Connections might not necessarily prove all that helpful. Recent health updates have reinforced that feeling, largely because they have put me into receive mode, and I’ve had to humble myself to accept that it’s ok to ask and receive help, that I am part of something greater than myself. And if in my physical health, why not in my writing? Do I honestly think the tiny number of my active antagonists in operation are thinking twice about getting a quote off Anne Enright for their lukewarm work? If them, why not me?
The thing is, people want to help. I see that from the groundswell of support since Mr C turned up. When I say “the hell with connections”, I’m rejecting how life and nature work. I’m pooh-poohing the circle of life. When I deny that life-giving interaction, because “I’m better than my enemies” and submit religiously into slush pile after slush pile with sanctimonious pride, I’m not, actually. I’m no better than the daft businessmen of Blackpool in Cork, who set up shop on a flood plain and now rue their mistake and rather than do business in less watery environs, want a river culverted over by a greenway.
Connection is about knowing we’re all in it together. About not turning my back on the land around me, of isolating my voice from others. About moderating that voice in me that might tend to self-righteousness and arrogance. It’s about taking down walls and opening up my heart to the abundance that is there. I joined the Green Party for that reason. I’m not some sort of miserable hermit. I actually have bloody friends in this world. Why not have the humility to ask for their good recommendation?
Yesterday the oncologist had a chat with me about my treatment and how to tweak the drugs to make it less arduous. Lesson one: there is never any need for gratuitous suffering. She also mentioned my baseline scans were clear of disease (nobody really was bothered about these except me) and lesson two: I’ve been gifted life and time to put words to the page. I open my heart to accept help and encouragement from those writers and industry professionals who value those words.
I’ve written a crime novel about the murder of an environmentalist in West Cork which brings up tensions dating from the Irish War of Independence. That’s part one of a series with specific detectives and on sub. I am currently writing the second in the series which is about a murder in a writers’ retreat. I am open to interest.