Stuck in the Middle (of the slushpile) With You!

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Well, I did it… I pressed ‘SEND’!

After a  busy year of  writing new stories  and making multiple revisions, I’ve recently sent some of my well-polished  picture book texts to a few carefully-chosen agents.  And now I’m waiting for something life-changing to happen. . . I’m checking my inbox a little too often– and scrutinising my spam box,  daily!

But  soon after pressing ‘Send’, a song title  popped into my head that I now just can’t get rid of. . . It seems to fit my current state of mind perfectly.

That song is, “Stuck in the Middle With You”, by Stealers Wheel. Because that is exactly how I feel. Here I am,  waiting in some vague and nebulous underworld, with hordes of other unagented and unpublished writers. We’re  stuck  in the middle of the slushpile, suspended somewhere between our Send buttons and that long-awaited  email– the one from an  agent or publisher who “gets” your work and would love to represent you!

I don’t know how many of you are stuck in the middle with me. But I imagine that we are probably so numerous and densely-packed as to be in danger of congealing  into a sort of  writerly ‘fatberg’, whilst awaiting  our chance to be pumped through the slushpile sewer pipes that lead to our future agent or publisher’s office. A quick freshen up in the Ladies, then it’s  out into the bright lights of their  paper-strewn, book-scented, cake-crumbed habitat.

But as there is nothing we can do to hasten our tardy transit through the slushpile sewer system ,  we might as well make the most of it. Because from what I’ve heard, we’re all going to be slopping around in it for a long time. As my song of choice says,

“Trying to make some sense of it all,

But I can see it makes no sense at all”.

Those words seem to be written for us Slushpilers! So– for all my  fellow clowns and jokers (to both left and right of me!) here are my top tips  to help us keep momentum going at all times. Because even if you aren’t actually moving through the slushpile, it’s important to give yourself the illusion that you are.

  • Do this by attending classes and courses and going to nice writerly events, where you can mingle with some of your fellow Slushpilers and perhaps swap advice on how to stay afloat until your agent/publisher  rescues you.
  • Make sure you always have another work in progress, as this will distract you from the manuscript  whose pages you are currently waving just above the slush-line.
  • Do take comfort from your critique partners and writing buddies, as most of them will have have been in the slushpile before, and might well still be stuck in the middle, too.
  • Finally, when the muddle of the middle gets too much,  get  stuck into a large bar of misery-busting,  morale-boosting,  commiserative  chocolate. It’s the perfect antidote for  your agenting  angst or publishing problems!
  •  And now . . . here’s a link to You Tube and  “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel. Could it be YOUR slushpile song, too? I’d love to know! You can find me on Twitter @FrancesTosdevin

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