Almost a year ago, my friend Anna, who is a co-parent of this blog, was starting out in her business. After many years of working for others, she decided to start her own property company called On-Point. She told me to share this: “You are your business card”. I wrote about it here.
I am not that business-savvy – which exasperates my youngest child a lot – and do not grab opportunities that come my way. My daughter grouses that the philosophy which my mother instilled with me is positively dangerous – I belive that all we need is love, sunshine and fresh air. I think my children’s father is to be blamed for that too, though he approached it from another angle – he believes that if we live simply, we need less. And simple living is happy life. We believe totally in Abundance. It will come. Please don’t hate me for writing that.
Putting the first two paragraphs together: in June, when I was back in the UK, I went to a lot of book readings because first and foremost, I love books and book readings are a free and fun way of getting the gist of new books. These are free events run by big bookshops such as Foyles and Waterstones, or sometimes, you pay a nominal entrance fee which covers wine and cheese afterwards. There was one event that stuck on my mind: Glenda Jackson in a debate about whether Shakespeare was political in his day.
I went to one in the Southbank Centre and was embroiled in a fierce public debate with the author of a book, which we both enjoyed tremendously (poor audience!). Afterwards, I got talking to the lady who was sitting beside me. She was well-dressed and in her fifties. She asked me what I did for a living – was I a mathematician? “No, Ma’am, I am a struggling author.” She asked for samples of my work, I gave her my book website address. She wrote back, telling me that she would like to commission a piece of fiction from me. Eh? Never heard of that sort of thing, I told her. She replied that the late, great Anais Nin initially wrote for private collectors. OK. I was intrigued, plus, being a newbie novelist, I knew I should accept all work!!!! (in fact, I have been toying with writing fiction and poetry for magazines for practice).
The lady gave me her very precise terms – I should not publish the novella anywhere and I was to assign the copyright to her – and in return, deposited the agreed sum into an escrow account. I began my first piece of commissioned work with vengeance. I wrote everywhere during the summer. I was worried that she would not like what I wrote, for nothing I write will ever be as deep and as profound as Catching Infinity.
But she released the money to me from the escrow account. A few weeks later, she commissioned another piece. She also recommended my writing to her friend. “We may invite you to New York one day,” she said silkily. OMG.
And to think, it all started from chatting to someone sitting beside me in the Southbank Centre when I was just out there having fun, being my real self… yes, Anna, we are indeed our best business cards. Thank you for the advice ❤ PS: I would also like to add that being at the right place at the right time also helps. Note: they are a lot of paid opportunities for writers elsewhere.