Publishing, Newts and The Quiet Fig by Honey Morenzo
I’ve been asked to be a guest contributor on this website again. The thing about blogs is that there are millions of them…and there are also gizoodles of gushy articles about how to write them that make me feel like lying on a sofa with a cat and a cup of hot chocolate.
Am extremely fond of sofas.
Wonder if I should become a Newt Surveyor. There is such a thing…look it up on Google.
In previous blogs (which I’ve included in this one…a cut and paste job with small edits that involved quite a bit of trawling) I explained that I work as an Editorial Assistant in a small publishing company and my boss is coffee fusspot Roderick Organza Treadmull. Our ‘list’ of ‘titles’ includes many books by elderly retired generals and one about saving frog habitats. Recently published titles include ‘Befriending Your Stick Insect’, ‘Sometimes It Really Is Nicer To Just Watch The Telly’ (a ‘cosy alternative’ to ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’), ‘Beyond The Hutch’ (that one is about rabbits) and ‘Buy That Cake!’ (a ‘reassuring self-help guide’ for people who buy recipe books but don’t use them).
Tanbo, my sort of boyfriend, has a big social conscience and feels that it’s high time Roderick published a book about the ‘outworn paradigm of capitalism’. He also thinks Roderick should make his own Fairtrade coffee (I have to collect it for him from a posh delicatessen), and that he should stop riding his flashy motorbike to work and take public transport. Much though I would like to say these things, and much else, to Roderick, I am mainly grateful that he hasn’t yet asked me to add ‘office cleaning’ to my list of duties. Our sales figures are far from fabulous and we now even have to bring our own biscuits to work.
Still haven’t finished reading ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron but I have opened it a few times and looked at the chapter headings. I did do some ‘Morning Pages’ a month ago. They were mainly about wondering if I should volunteer to do a silent working retreat at a Buddhist centre, the need to actually get measured for a new bra and wishing Tanbo didn’t want me to watch so many programmes about climate change. I’m worried about melting glaciers too, but sometimes I just want to watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
The Smooth Newt is classified by scientists as Triturus vulgaris.
By the way ‘The Quiet Fig’, a book of poems by a very attractive American guy called Scott, has become a surprise bestseller. This is largely because it turns out that Scott is also an actor and he’s got a part in a successful American sitcom. I’m glad that I was nice to Scott when he turned up at our offices to discuss the very brief letter that said his poems were ‘not suitable for our list’…someone like that is usually fended off firmly at reception. Must find out why the fig is quiet because Scott is pretty adorable and he recently retweeted some stuff I wrote about the social needs of the rabbit.
Must go because Roderick has pounded into the office and wants me to do a bunch of Facebook stuff about frogs…yet again.
Blogs wot I wrote earlier. Honey x:
My name is Honey Morenzo and I’m an occasional contributor to these pages. It gives me more practice re. writing stuff. I’d like to write more stuff but I’m not sure what about exactly. I have still not finished reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but one of the things she bangs on about is that if you want to be a writer you need to write.
Wonder if I should go get a digestive biscuit covered with chunky peanut butter.
At least I’ve read some impressive big books lately, including ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen. It has a marvelously complex and satisfying plot, a deep understanding of some aspects of the human condition and includes many mentions of birds, particularly a type of warbler. I feel quite virtuous about reading it because it is grown up and important. Jonathan’s great at the old typing.
The thing about writing a book is you’d have to decide what to wear to the launch, if there was one, and if it was a bestseller your hand might get really tired after signing loads of copies.
Am tempted to eat a banana but have already had an egg and some oatcakes and some rice cakes covered in thickly cut sugarless marmalade. Writing sometimes makes me ravenous.
I work in publishing so I should know more about writing stuff, only the job seems to involve a lot of PR work these days. Roderick Organza Treadmull, my boss, is desperate to shift ‘titles’…that’s what we call books…’titles’.
At the last PR thing we ‘threw’…somehow that reminds me of hefty women throwing metal balls at the Olympics…a gerbil escaped from the author’s suspiciously capacious briefcase (her book is about small pets for big city living). The name of the gerbil was Gertrude and she could, apparently, do some pretty endearing little tricks which is why she’d been brought along for ‘photo opportunities’. When she scarpered the main photos were of women screaming ‘rat!”. She reappeared from under a very large sofa when tempted by a Pringles crisp. Apparently she goes for the plain type and isn’t into cheese and onion.
Love Pringles crisps myself and the tube they come in can be very useful for pencil etc storage if covered with floral patterned paper. Not that I’ve done this myself of course. That would involve actually getting the paper and cutting it into shape and then locating a tube of Pritt, if I had one….it can get really leathery if you don’t put the top on properly. (When I went to a writing workshop the multi-jumpered facilitator said that small details can help bring a story to life…must make note of my insightful observations re. Tipp-Ex, photocopiers and that moody metal bit on hanging files.)
Really do need a cuppa now!
Roderick Organza Treadmull, my boss (I’m his Editorial Assistant) has become obsessed by Twitter recently. He keeps asking me to talk up books using the hash tag thingy (still don’t really understand it). He has also become extraordinarily finicky about his cappuccinos. I have to get them from an Italian deli three streets away and tell them he only wants one shot and extra foam. He demands nutmeg with his chocolate topping. He sometimes actually sits on my desk (it is fairly large) and tells me about the time when publishing was oh so much more civilised and not mainly run by conglomerates. He adored the first place he worked in. Apparently there was a wooden prosthetic leg in the corner of the office…no-one knew why it was there and didn’t bother to ask.
He was an editorial assistant back then himself, but he still regularly gallivanted off to wine bars for lunch…he had to sober up pretty fast if he had to proof read indexes afterwards. Proof reading indexes is not much fun. I have to do it without the benefit to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Roderick hopes that any day now we’ll hit the big time with some hot new author. We’ve recently churned out memoirs from retired generals (long complicated indexes, fussy photo captions and long discussions re. sepia tones on jacket), some stuff about dog obedience training etc and a nice perky book about the importance of preserving frog habitats. The author was going to bring a frog to the launch only it escaped from its container in the swanky hotel foyer and was found afterwards by some amazed Americans. It had been sulking behind a Kentia Palm. “So frogs sometimes come indoors over here do they?” one of the women asked. “Like sort of geckos in hotter climes?” We didn’t have time to explain the situation because Hubert (that’s what I called him) was already hopping towards a table laden with dry Martinis. I took a picture of Hubert. ‘Frog flees literary gathering’ caused a bit of interest on Twitter, especially since the accompanying link to Hubert’s photo was incorrect and featured one of the retired Generals I’d been publicising. Thank goodness the guy shuns social media.
Have been in sporadic email contact with Scott, that American poet guy I mentioned a while back…the author of an as yet unpublished book of poems called ‘The Quiet Fig’. I naturally haven’t asked him why the fig is quiet, though I’d like to. In fact I try to avoid any mention of poetic matters in our correspondence (he still has a slight hope that Roderick may take an interest in the stuff since their brief chat about a shared interest in motorbikes in Manhattan). When I told Scott about the frog fiasco he thought it was hilarious. ‘Geez Honey’ he wrote ‘What if the frog’s a pacifist?’
We’ve had long email discussions about what sort of creatures I should sneak into book launches…. ‘Snake scoffs canapes at military history luncheon’…’Wolf teaches dog obedience author manners at book launch’. He’s currently working as a PA on some American talk show and really understands my cappuccino situation with Roderick. One of his bosses is so fussy about sushi that the list of requirements runs to an A4 page.
Tanbo, my occasional boyfriend, has just phoned. He wanted to know if I’ve done anything about getting a ‘decent’ job and have told Roderick to get his own cappuccinos. He also wanted to know if I’ve signed the petition he forwarded. It is, apparently, very worthy and important. I get so many petitions to sign I sort of lose track of them. It started off in a small virtuous way but now I sometimes feel like a member of the U.N.
Tanbo has a fabulous social conscience. We marched out of a very nicely decorated cafe the other day because it didn’t stock Fairtrade coffee. We are going to a talk tonight about how to avoid wheat.
Roderick has just come in with some photocopying machine issue. He says that it says it’s out of paper when it isn’t. He seems to take it personally. I’d better go and turn the thing off and on again.
Can’t spend long typing this ‘cos am at my desk and Roderick is in a foul mood about sales figures. Am feeling extremely demoralised myself today because realise, yet again, that I should have jumped ship from this job when there were loads of other jobs to apply for. Looked up a volunteering website a while ago and saw there were some very interesting jobs in Peru…somewhere near the Amazon…possibly in or near the jungle. Got quite excited until I saw it required fluency in Spanish. Perhaps should start attending Spanish night-classes. Similar vacancies may pop up in the future.
Last night I visited my pal Astrid who’s in her mid sixties and a student of Shamanism. The ‘healing traditions of indigenous cultures’ really float her boat. Thank God she didn’t tell me I was creating my own reality because I might well have thrown the plate of chocolate digestives at her. Sometimes there’s only so much of this ‘evolving consciousness’ stuff one can take. Anyway…she made me a nice mug of Earl Grey Tea and her Siamese cat, Biggles, sat on my lap. “This too will pass Honey” she said with her big sweet smile. How does she know this stuff about me?
I was doing my best to appear contented because, as Tanbo (sort of boyfriend) frequently points out I am not living in a shack in the ‘developing’ world and have access to clean water and electricity and pleasant enough food…including Starbars. The great thing about Astrid is she doesn’t mind when I get pissed off. She just accepts people as they are.
Gotta go because reception has just rung to say there’s an author skulking around wanting to know why their manuscript ‘isn’t suitable for our list’. She’s told them no-one is available for comment but they are now attempting to get into the lift. Will have to head them off somehow. Yikes.
Some hours later
Took marauding author out for quick cappuccino. Highly unprofessional but he is very attractive and American. Roderick told him to “drop by sometime” when they met in Manhattan. He has just written a book of poems called ‘The Quiet Fig’. I doubt that Roderick knew of these impending stanzas when they met in NYC…seems they share an interest in motorbikes. I told him that if and when he actually meets Roderick again he should not mention ‘The Quiet Fig’ or the letter (he just signs them anyway) or the ‘list’ which is rarely explained to anyone and is basically a secular mystery. I added that we do not publish poetry anyway and briskly suggested that he buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook.
I wanted to make a quick exit before he suggested that I read ‘The Quiet Fig’ but suddenly we were talking about 2012 and the Mayan calendar and various prophecies which, to be honest, take quite a bit of getting used to. Scott, that’s his name, also believes the world is undergoing some vast transformation. He has actually studied quantum physics and the mating habits of hummingbirds and lived in the Amazon jungle for five months as a volunteer teacher. (He speaks fluent Spanish.) We both adore Frazier and antique fabrics and E.M. Forster. We discovered all this about each other in 21 minutes. Suddenly I knew he had to meet my pal Astrid. She’d love him. When I said this he said he was going back to New York tomorrow….in just twenty four hours.
I tried to feel grateful that I had met this wonderful creature…he resembles a gazelle in some way…which sounds stupid I know but it’s true. But, as Tanbo would certainly point out, gratitude is on my improvement list. He is wonderful at pointing out all the things that I need to work on and I don’t even feel grateful for his judicious mentoring. He would also almost certainly say that the sudden attraction I felt for Scott was, in fact, a projection..that I was seeing qualities in him I didn’t fully own in myself. Tanbo can make relationships sound like macrame. It’s one of his many talents. He also makes really delicious bread.
So Scott and I parted, like ships in the night, and I’m back home and feeling guilty. Because Tanbo is my soul mate. That’s what he says anyway and he knows about that kind of thing. He follows his ‘intuitive wisdom’…he even gave a workshop about it. He knows what he wants and how to get it. But Scott is bewildered…a little lost even…uncertain. He feels like a “schmuck”. That’s what he said before he left. A fake. A cheerful desperado. I loved it when he said that. I don’t know why. And now he’s gone and it shouldn’t matter, but it does. Before long Scott will just be an affectionate anecdote, but I know that I’ll never think of figs in the same way again.
There are two teddies on my desk…actually it’s not a ‘desk’ as such, it’s a large table…and both of them (the teddies) are staring at me hopefully. One of them is wearing an Aran jumper. I already feel a little tired after typing these words. Perhaps I should take a little break and have one of those creamy biscuits I put in the freezer. I hoped they would take time to thaw and therefore be unavailable for immediate consumption, but they don’t seem to freeze for some reason.
I will have pea soup for lunch.
Back at laptop after having watched Oprah Winfrey during lunch. She was talking about American Country Music. There were lots of cheery people singing sad songs.
This writing lark takes practice. I recently went to a creative writing course and was all ooomphed up about it for a while. Bought a new pen and swanky notepad and put on blue scarf. Tried to ‘woo’ my creative side with cappuccinos and mild flirtations with Italian waiters.
Am I finding my authentic voice? The teacher said that’s what we had to do. She also said cherish the details and less can be more. She falls in love with her characters sometimes. I’m hoping that, as I type this, some gorgeous sensitive hunk is going to introduce himself to me. I will not make him a yoga teacher. Been there done that wanted to take off the t-shirt. It happened in Greece.
I really miss not having a cat.
Need to take rest from writing now. I am clearly not in the ‘zone’. Also need to handwash bra…
Another thing the teacher said was that we should introduce characters at an interesting juncture in their lives.
Juncture is an interesting word. It’s not something one says very often is it? Tad…that’s another word I like. They use it in upmarket American sitcoms. And chiaroscuro…must look that one up.
I know loads of eager people who say that a new paradigm of consciousness is emerging on the planet. I go to workshops. I discuss that kind of thing. I meditated this morning and stared at a candle.
Think I may go and get another biscuit.
I am nearly forty. I have an imaginary home in Provence with hens, lavender, a horse, large cream cups and sunflowers. Typing this has meant I have missed ‘Wogan’s Total Recall’. Have just received an email from someone wanting to sell me replica watches.
Tried to Google my first love yesterday but I don’t think he is an Engineer in Texas, a male escort or a someone who’s really keen on low carbon emissions. His name was listed many times, but not him. Perhaps it’s just as well. Don’t know what I’d say to him anyway. And meeting him again wouldn’t please Tanbo. That is the unlikely name of my occasional boyfriend. We met in Argos. If I hadn’t wanted a swanky new kettle I would never have known he existed. The main thing we have in common is the belief that the world us undergoing some vast sort of transformation. He’s into quantum physics and bakes large quantities of bread which he sells as markets. Before the recession he was in marketing. He sometimes camps in the wilds and chants in Sanskrit. And he’s big into ‘orbs’.
One of these days I’m going to have to tell him to do something about his nose hair.
‘To be whole let yourself be partial.’ Lao Tzu
I work for a publishing company. It sounds interesting but it isn’t. I’m an assistant to Roderick Organza Treadmull who keeps getting me to type letters to poor authors telling them their book isn’t ’suitable for our list’. I sometimes dab a bit of aromatherapy oil on this bleak correspondence. Occasionally I add a little x after his signature too.
Roderick really put me off writing for ages. Somehow he found out that I was doing a creative writing course and said he’d “love” to look at my scribblings. He has a bit of a wandering eye does Roderick. He arrives in the office in his leather motorbike gear and puts on the Pet Shop Boys at full volume.
He doesn’t know I know his middle name.
Must go ‘cos Tanbo is at the door to take me to a meeting about dolphin communication…I really like dolphins.