Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memoir finished - sick with nerves.

Finished my memoir On The Gradient Road last week - and am sick with nerves as I have sent it out to my agent and she is reading it at the moment. Or rather - she not been able to get to it yet - I have to keep calling her to check that the silence doesn't mean that she is sitting in her office with her head in her hands going "this is crap - HOW am I going to tell her." This is the very worst thing about writing - waiting for the first bit of feedback. I never mind editing, or re-writing - or rather over the years I have become immune to it through experience- it is just the initial read by my agent that cripples me with nerves. She is the best agent in Ireland, and one of the best in the world - but what makes her special is the commitment and integrity with which she approaches her work. If she likes it - or rather if she LOVES it - she will sell it - regardless of how "commercial" or not it is. So her early opinion is the make or break for everything I write. She likes thing that are written from the heart, and this book is a memoir - heart? Don;t be talking! I plumbed the very depths of my psyche, heart, soul -as some eminent writer (whose name got robbed with Tom's birth along with all sorts of miscellaneous information that might suggest I have an actual brain in my head) said "I opened a vein and wrote it drop by drop."

On The Gradient Road is a memoir of the past year of my life. Those of you who know me already know that 2009 was a mad intense time for me and my family - Niall and I both lost our only brothers - then his father died in January, with baby Tom being born into the middle of it. The book is the most intensely personal thing I have ever written. It was written as therapy because as a writer I make sense of my life through words on a page, and I found myself unable to move forward with my new novel until I had got all the emotional confusion and upheaval of the last year out of my system. I have no idea if it is any good or not - certainly if it is compelling enough to be published. As my sister Claire says "That's enough about me - let's talk some more about ME." Weird to write a book entirely about oneself and expect people to be interested (hello? I do that in my Irish Mail column every thursday - and here!)
Anyway - in the meantime I am paralysed with nerves, sitting here in my living room, pottering through Facebook, and blogging and waiting - oh and pulling baby Tom away from climbing up on the fire grate which seems to be the only thing in the house that interests him at the moment.
Will keep you posted.


  1. Good luck with that Kate. I expect that because it's such a personal piece of writing about such a critical time in your life makes the nerves even worse. Do you get a sense of achievement that the writing is finished and sent off? Or does this only come when it's published and selected for the TV book club :)

  2. In Ellis Island when Ellie is returning to Ireland on the RMS Celtic in 1924 she picks up a couple of dog eared paper backs to read. Paper backs did not appear until 1931 when they were published by a German publishing house called Albatros. Penguin books did not appear until 1935. These are details your researchers should have discovered. It took me less than 5 minutes to find out that information!
    Make your researchers work harder OR do it yourself.