I have two goals for 2014. Many people will be all too familiar with Goal Number One – which is to shed (an unspecified number of) unwanted pounds, get fitter and eat more healthily. After several false starts over recent years, I don’t believe I should put it off any longer. It’s time to begin to act consistently (ie, for more than 3 days at a time) in the interests of staying fit and well for a good many more years. This, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t come naturally to me; so I’m linking it to my other goal, in the hope that a firm eye on this particular prize will help me stay the course with what is, for me, an undeniably challenging task.
Goal Number Two of course, is to find an agent and secure a publishing deal for Singled Out. I’m more resolved than ever on this matter, as the final email I received on New Year’s Eve 2013, around 10pm yesterday evening, was my second rejection. I experienced the initial lurch of excitement as I realised who it was had emailed me. That’s a bit like getting an envelope in the post that you know is from the Premium Bonds, and until you open it and find out you’ve only won £25, you can dream it’s the jackpot. It wasn’t the jackpot. It was another perfectly polite and encouraging standard format rejection. But I found myself quite content to receive it, as it came from one of those agents whose website says, ‘if you haven’t heard from us in 8 weeks, you can assume we’re not interested’. It was reassuring to be handled courteously and to be encouraged to try other agents.
So – getting fit and getting published – how do my two goals connect? It’s in a single positive visualisation – something I’ve used on and off in life to help make the things I want to achieve more real and vivid and connect me on an emotional level with how much I want to achieve them. I know it might seem a bit nuts and I confess I did get the idea from self-help guru Tony Robbins originally. But on occasion it’s served me well, so I make no apology.
Everyone should dream, no matter how far-fetched or remote their dreams may feel. Mine feel to me to be tantalisingly attainable. I hope I’m not being pretentious, sharing them with you.
I picture myself on the stage at a literary festival, maybe in an elegant public room, a small theatre, or a marquee, discussing my debut novel with an interviewer and reading excerpts to an audience. In another version of the same, I see myself in a larger branch of Waterstones, seated at a table on which there are multiple copies of Singled Out. In front of me is a gratifyingly lengthy queue of readers waiting for personally signed copies. When I get going I can build these pictures into mini movies in my mind, imagining textures, colours and aromas; my choice of outfit, the refreshments on the table, the way the room has been dressed, the looks on the faces of the audience and more. When you let yourself go, it’s fun to play with visualisations.
To properly relish the sense of achievement and success in these mini movies, I visualise myself as the best I can be – a worn-out, overweight and unhealthy version of me has no place in these pictures. To enjoy the pleasure of my writerly efforts coming to fruition, I want to be full of energy and vitality and I want to look my best – that’s how I picture myself on that stage, or at that table.
And for that, I cannot afford to waste another moment. So before I get my head around the next few pages of the 2014 Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and get some more agent submissions out, I’m jumping on the treadmill.