Thursday, 9 August 2012

Of crazy projects and gold medals

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.’


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:

9 Aug 1

9 Aug 2

9 Aug 3

9 Aug 4

9 Aug 5

9 Aug 7

9 Aug 8

9 Aug 9

Pigeon, doing extended trot in honour of the dressage:

9 Aug 10

9 Aug 11

Red the Mare, showing off her flying change:

9 Aug 12


9 Aug 15


  1. Such exciting news! I cannot wait to hear more.

    Now off to catch up on the dressage online...

    Very good luck Tania, enjoy the starlight!

  2. 'Pouring out of me like starlight'; beautiful. Congratulations!

  3. Trying to read between the lines... I feel that the secret project can only be about Red. What else could grip and excite you quite like that. Maybe I am wrong but I hope I am not. I'd quite like to read it when it comes out.

    Best of luck x

  4. Excitement! Can't wait to hear more!! I *longed* for more fiction amidst re-reading Thunders/Elvis earlier this summer! (sorry, lots of exclamations).
    Adored the dressage today, goosebumps to the patriotic music. have adored it all. Olympic fever. It's been amazing.

  5. HURRAH!!! How exciting for you. Can't wait to find out what it's all about. xx

  6. Oh, wonderful! Was cursing when I saw your tweet that agent was out of pocket. Enjoy this magical ride--can't wait to hear all about it.

  7. First, congratulations all over the place on a project that not only sends you soaring, but apparently does everyone else too.

    Second, with all the jumping and shouting over your new project and some of your race winners of late, the poor Pigeon is probably shell-shocked ("Hey, Red, you wouldn't believe how noisy it gets up at the old homestead . . ."). ;-)

    And heavens, Dujardin was just over the top. About the time her music became Elgar and the Olympic theme, I gave up all pretense of sanity. So glad all this Olympic equestrian fuss is over--there aren't any emotions left!


  8. Congratulations on the project which I hope will not remain secret much longer!

    Sweltering Stateside, visiting family.


  9. beautiful news all round. I am that strange thing, a very unsporty Australian, so other than your reports, have no idea what is happening in the Olympics, which is just the way this household likes it. There are few things lovelier than human and horse making magic....unless it is wonder hounds enjoying themselves in the paddocks!

    When the words just flow, that's a gift of the gods and another type of magic. When the constellations sing and the light shines and time has no dominion because words are weaving miracles.

  10. Congratulations on the new beginning! Looking forward to more details.

    I think there are too few photographs of gorgeous moss in the world. Thank you for doing your part to remedy this.

  11. You can't tell us what this means? You don't have to: we know. And are delighted.

  12. Exciting news. Can't wait to hear more. Can you give us an insight at all? Perhaps a guess the book challenge?

    Red and horses sounds like it good be a safe bet as one BIHH reader suggested?


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