Yesterday was one of those happy days when you get a pleasant surprise. I was grappling with Fiends 3, trying to resolve problems with the second chapter, when the gas man called. He wanted access to the local Corn Exchange building to read the meter and, as a board member of the Biggar Theatre Workshop which uses the building as its theatre, I was listed as his contact number. So I schlepped down, opened up and he read the meter. And that was the morning shot to shit, with nothing productive to show for my efforts. So far, so vexing.
But I got him to a phone message from a prospective employer, someone who could open up a whole new medium for me. Could I call him back? But of course. Was I busy? Well, yes, there's the Fiends novel and revising my Morse book, but if he had something exciting to offer me, I'd stop sleeping for a few weeks to make it happen. He sent me the relevant details, I had a think about it for twenty minutes, went downstairs to the dining room table and scribbled some notes into a yellow legal pad, then came back up to the computer and knocked together a two-page synopsis. Emailed it off, called him to say it was lurking in his inbox, then waited. Forty-five minutes later he called back to discuss a few points, but essentially it was a big, fat yes. It looks like I've got my foot in the door of something new, exciting and potentially career-changing.
All in the space of 173 minutes.
By now you'll have noticed I'm being delightfully vague about the details. Well, I've been disappointed before with things that almost happened but never quite did, like the media tie-in book for which I almost got commissioned that would have put my name on the bestseller lists. Alas, that wasn't to be, so seeing my name on a bestseller list in The Bookseller remains an ambition as yet unfulfilled. Give me time, I'll get there. So, until the contracts are signed and I know this particular project is set in stone, I'll say no more about it. But I had to share the anecdote.
A lot of this business is about who you know as well as what you know. But sometimes, it's also about dumb luck - being the right place at the right time and saying 'I can find time' when someone offers you an opportunity. You've got to grab the chances life offers you with both hands, otherwise you'll only have regrets to look forward to, and they aren't much comfort.
Three days to Christmas and back to Fiends for me...