Warrior Mums

Warrior Mums

25 November 2012

WHAT TO WEAR TO THE PUBLISHER'S


     

   Just what do you wear for an interview with a publisher? Oh my goodness, I was stumped! It was the early 90s in Ireland and I was living in County Mayo; a time when the late great Gerry Ryan was entertaining the nation with his RTE radio programme, the Emerald Isle’s football team made it to the World Cup and Mary Robinson was the first female to be elected President.       
Arriving home from a weekend at my friend Anne’s, and where I'd left the children for an extra overnight stay, I had the contents of my wardrobe strewn across the bed. Blue and black – black and blue - were the only colours I ever wore. Should I look smart? Casual? Smart-casual? Then again did it really matter? Yes, I decided, it did, but I needed to wear clothes I felt comfortable in so I could relax and be myself. Not too relaxed though because I had to try and convince this publisher that my story deserved to be published. Yikes, it was a scary thought.
I settled on a light-blue top and gypsy skirt with navy sandals. I thought ‘bright and breezy’ was the best option and reminded myself the most important thing to wear was a smile.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I hoped the weather remained dry. Rain would be disastrous for my curly hair. I only had to go near a boiling kettle and it frizzed up. My biggest nightmare would be arriving at the publisher’s office like a drowned rat or worse still, like I’d had an electric shock.
I arrived in Dublin in plenty of time and strolled up O’Connell Street weaving in and out of the lunchtime crowd, up past the famous Floozy in the Jacuzzi and the Gresham Hotel.
I was excited about meeting the publisher, and pleased too that the sun was shining. So far so good; all was going to plan. 


I stopped a passer-by for directions and as instructed I continued walking up the street until I reached the Gate Theatre then turned right. I found myself in a street full of hotels. I stopped a passer-by and asked for directions. When a cheerful Irish person says, ‘it’s just up the road’ I’d learnt their ‘just up the road’ could be a mile - or two – or three, away. How awful would it be if I arrived at the publisher’s office late? So I asked another passer-by just to make sure I was on the right track.
I continued on past the hotels to the end of the street, turned a corner and found myself standing in Mountjoy Square, one of the five Georgian squares in Dublin and where the publisher was based.
I took a deep breath. It still hadn’t sunk in -Me - going to meet a publisher?
I stood for a moment admiring the elegant houses that had been converted into offices. I was an hour early, but that was me. I hated to be late for anything. 
The plaque on the wall a few houses along told me Wolfhound Press was on the top floor. Now that I had my bearings I about turned and walked down the street to find a café or pub to kill time and freshen up. 
Crossing the busy road I tried to answer the kind of questions the publisher might ask:

Publisher: "Tell me a little about yourself?"
Me: (Thinking) Yikes! Where do I begin? "I was born in Liverpool on Hitler's  birthday, a day before Queen Elizabeth's Coronation. I was the only child of eight to be born at home. I cut my first tooth when I was seven months..."

Publisher: "What inspired you to write your book?"
Me: "Ooooh, myyyy Goooood, don't get me started!"
(But what kind of an answer is that?)

Publisher: "What book are you reading at the moment?"
Me: 'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway' - 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' - 'The Power of Positive Thinking'. "Erm, 'War and Peace'."

Publisher: "When did you first consider yourself a writer?"
Me: Me? A writer? Okay-okay, I hold my hands up - I'm a fraud. I shouldn't even be here. My book was an accident. You see I was typing myself out of a nervous breakdown and the words just kept pouring out and the pages piling up and before I knew it... "When I finished writing my story and held the manuscript in my hands."

Publisher: "Did you learn anything from writing your book?"
Me: Yes, I'm not as crazy as I thought I was. "Oh yes, it was an interesting journey."

Publisher: "Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in life?"
Me: "Well for the last few years I haven't had much adult company but one of my best friends is Oprah Winfrey although she doesn't know it.. Oprah Winfrey is the mother of all mothers: a woman that helped half the world raise their children: she certainly helped me raise mine. Oprah Winfrey is the sister everyone would love to have and... "Oprah Winfrey." 
I blamed my undisciplined hair for my undisciplined thoughts. I looked at my watch. This time in two hours the meeting would be over. I pushed open the pub door and went inside. 

The room was dark and dreary, making it difficult to tell if it was day or night. Maybe that was the idea; to remove all sense of time. There were three elderly men at the bar so I said “Hello” and ordered a coffee. Then I went to the Ladies.
When I returned to the bar my English accent aroused curiosity, and I was soon deep in conversation with three Dubliners. They asked if I was on holiday and were surprised to learn I lived in County Mayo. When I told them the reason I was in Dublin, and how nervous I was they wanted to buy me a drink but I graciously declined. I daren’t touch any alcohol – there would be plenty of that later when I met friends in my home-town that night.
 
“What’ll ye have to drink?” I was asked again when one of the men ordered a round of drinks. “Give the woman a brandy.” He instructed the barman. “It’ll calm her nerves.” I didn’t suppose one could do much harm, could it? The barman smiled as he placed the glass in front of me. I picked it up and we toasted. “I’ll not be wishing you luck,” he stated ‘cause ye won’t need it. ‘Tis yer success we’ll be toastin’ to. Isn’t that right, lads?”
“It is!” they chorused.  
I’d never tasted brandy before and fixed a smile as the liquid nearly took the lining off my tongue. The next thing two more drinks are placed in front of me. With all the excitement I’d forgotten to eat so there was no way I could drink those shots.

“Oh, that’s awful kind of you but I can’t drink that. Honestly, I will just...”
“Get it down ye! Go on!”
So I did.
I left the pub with a great send-off and headed towards the publishers. Now I understood the meaning of that Irish Blessing, ‘May the road rise up to meet you...’ haha, only joking. The road stayed where it was and the medicinal liquid did the trick. I was no longer nervous as I hurried on up to the publisher’s office – I couldn’t wait to meet him.
Bernie, one of the editors opened the front door and smiled brightly, inviting me to follow her. Oh, was I glad the publisher’s office was on the top floor and not in the basement – it’s less damaging to trip up one step on a gypsy skirt than to stumble and fall down the lot. I laughed with Bernie as I followed her up the stairs. When she showed me into the publisher’s office I smiled as he crossed the room to greet me. I shook his outstretched hand, accepted his invitation to sit down and the interview began......

(c) copyright
'What to Wear to the Publisher's' is an excerpt from my autobiography With a Little Hel From My Friends available on Amazon Kindle and paperback.



 With a Little Help From my Friends UK

 With a Little Help From my Friends USA   























4 comments:

  1. I loved "I blamed my undisciplined hair for my undisciplined thoughts" - a great line! It made me laugh out loud. Only in Ireland could you end up getting drunk before a meeting with a publisher. I would have managed to fall down the stairs I am sure!

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    1. "Only in Ireland.." is right. :)

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  2. You have a wonderful sense of humor that I love. I use a similar tactic when I'm nervous. I always remind myself to relax with a saying from the movie, "Stripes." It goes something like this, "Lighten up, Francis."

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    1. I always try to look on the bright side, Sandy. I can't see the use in worrying about what might never happen. :)

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