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Well now that was an exhausting month.

I’ve spent the past four weeks deadlocked with two pieces of coursework, and been unable to work on my novel as a result. I finally finished the second piece of coursework, an essay, about five minutes ago. In that month though, have been a couple of amazing meetings with professionals within the writing industry. One, a talk from Ajda Vucicevic, a literary agent with Luigi Bonomi Associates, and the agent of my personal tutor, Niki. I handed her a copy of my book proposal – 19 pages of paper – after the talk, and introduced myself. Two issues straight away:

I forgot to number the pages.
I forgot to add my email address.

So after that bad first impression, she smiled it off and promised to get back to me.
Which she did. I received an email from her a week and a half later with some recommendations for how to improve my manuscript. Sadly for me, Ajda didn’t want to offer to represent me. (Which would have been amazing if she had, because she’s the first person I’ve submitted any work to outside of a university anthology project). She did however tell me that the concept for my novel was “fantastic”, so I was stoked about that.

The other meeting was with Jade Chandler, a commissioning editor at Little, Brown. Again, it wasn’t particularly long, but Jade was visiting the university to give a talk, and kindly read two page submissions from several students, then offered feedback on where we could improve them. Talking with her was a great experience – she offered advice on what plot points to utilize more in my submissions, and even (after listening to my tastes in SF and fantasy genres) which London agencies or publishing houses I might enjoy who might also offer me internships. I have since applied for internships at Hachette, Egmont and will send an email to Gollancz soon.

Now that my coursework pieces are both out of the way, I’m spending the next month playing catch-up on my novel word count. If all goes to plan, then byMonday 18th March, I should be on 88,670 words – 8,670 words more than I estimated for the end of my project. The only issue is that I doubt very much that the 28k I need to write in those four weeks will actually finish the story.

As before though, I’m not hugely worried about this. During my meeting with Jade, she mentioned that first drafts for books she receives (she works with crime and thrillers) are often around 110,000 words. After all, it’s always better to have more material that you can cut things from than not have enough and need to stretch things out.

In other news, my twitter feed has become the home of numerous writers, agents and publishing house feeds in the two weeks that have passed since Damien G Walter began teaching a module on writing for the web. Personally I think it’s a testament to the man that after only 6 hours contact time with him, he’s managed to get me more involved with the blogs, twitter accounts and home pages of many writers, some of whom I’ve never heard of or read anything by!

As always, let me know how your writing endevours are progressing.