Slight state of collapse. Stayed up all night working on secret project. It has suddenly grabbed me and will not let go. I found myself wide awake at five in the morning, having written four thousand words.
I sent it to The Playwright. This is all his fault. It was his idea in the first place. I asked him to tell me at once if the whole thing was a load of buggery bollocks, because I had drunk so much coffee I could not tell. I did not want to send it to my agent if it was too shaming.
The reply came back before breakfast. ‘Send it,’ he wrote.
(I should explain what an act of friendship that is. It’s very difficult reading pages for someone to whom you are close; there are elephant traps everywhere. Also, The Playwright, as his name suggests, has things of his own to be writing. To read and respond so quickly is something not that many people would do. It is an act of true generosity and elegance.)
Anyway, I sent it.
The reply was also swift. Automated reply: agent out of the office until 13th August. I had no idea how I was going to deal with the tension until then. Luckily, the Younger Niece has just received a diploma in bartending, so if the worst comes to the worst, I can get her to feed me white ladies.
Then, just before lunch, the agent emailed. She was on holiday in Italy, but she had read my twenty pages. ‘Write it,’ she wrote. ‘Already thinking of editors.’
I CANNOT TELL YOU WHAT THIS MEANS.
Sorry about the capitals. I got into hysterical cap mode whilst watching the dressage and it seems that this is a day for intemperance and hyperbole. The thing is, the last book was such a struggle. We never struck off on the right leg, and have been slightly out of kilter ever since. It will still need a battling third draft. But this secret project is pouring out of me like starlight. I never pull all-nighters except on the day before deadline. I had only sat down to noodle about for my own pleasure.
When a book grabs you by the neck, you can only submit. What you cannot tell is whether anyone else will be as entranced by it as you are yourself. That is why the agent’s email felt so sweet. I jumped and shouted and punched the air. The Pigeon looked most quizzical and slightly shocked.
So now I have a lovely new project which is real, not secret, and it feels as if something wonderful has shifted and I do not need to sit at my desk with my shoulders about my ears, desperately doing pitches which never quite hit the right note.
As a treat, I let myself watch the finals of the dressage in the afternoon. That was when the mad capital letter tweeting started. A resolute band of horse-lovers on my timeline was as nervy and excited as I. The levels of skill and beauty were off the scale. I may describe it on another day, when I can focus my eyes. But the glorious thing was that despite massive scores posted by the Dutch and Germans, Charlotte Dujardin, the British rider, won gold, with her lovely horse Valegro.
They performed a test of beauty and humour and a little sprinkling of patriotism even; it held a flash of eccentricity, a whiff of irony. It was, in other words, a very British test, except for the part where it was perfect, which is not a virtue these islands are known for. They were immaculate, and when they won, there was not a dry eye in the house. Certainly not in this house. It was really, really lovely.
Up to my own mare now. I may explain to her the mysteries of the reverse pirouette. Or, I may not. (Ha, ha, ha, she will say to Myfanwy the Pony, after I have gone; do you know what the old girl was banging on about tonight?)
Pictures of evening walk with The Younger Brother:
Pigeon, doing extended trot in honour of the dressage:
Red the Mare, showing off her flying change: