Tring Tring. The phone rings. I need broader shoulders but damn how broad must they be. Tring tring it rings again. I’m in the middle of devising this piece Tring tring. I received the news that my agent at William Morris Agency is leaving me after a shake up in the company. I saw it coming. They saw it coming. Tring freaking tring. This after a day earlier I met her assistant
who is dealing brilliantly with live readings. She’s goes too. The penny drops in slow motion. This means the hundreds of enquiries, people around the world and here in Britain who want to book me will have no one to correspond with. I’m lost. So that’s the tv and radio agent plus the live bookings agent gone in one fell swoop. Meanwhile a month ago my literary agent, if you can grace her with that illustrious terms, left her agency Sheiland a month ago having already moving from one agency PFD to Sheiland. I am agentless in literature TV and Radio and Live bookings and feeling vulnerable. Very. And I’m away from home.
Tring Tring tring. My publishers Canongate – beautiful publishing house and wonderful people – call me up to enquire about a contract for a book that my previous agent wants me to take out with the agency she has just left. She said a month ago, when she left, that her negotiations on what is a standard poetry book contract, as yet unsigned, must stay with the agency she is leaving. Jesus this from a woman who the first time she spoke to me she talked of my hundreds of thousands of book sales registered on Amazon. I had to correct her and tell her that it wasn’t book sales in the amazon figures but the ratings number. For Christ sakes I write poetry not the Kama Freakin Sutra. My book with canongate is not out for a year. So, in her opinion, on leaving her agency, I am supposed to tie the book to an agency that is not representing me a year in advance of a book of poetry for a contract which is not yet signed.
I ofcourse objected to her moving and shaking before jumping ship. I figure myself to be a loose end which she is trying to tie up nice and neat and yet with neither the motivation or will. The responsibility for this was handed over by her to someone else at Sheiland whom I have been trying to get in touch with to clear up the matter. It turns out the SHE HAS LEFT TOO! Meanwhile prompted by an
enquiry from my publisher someone else at the same agency is trying to get in
touch with me no doubt wondering why I haven’t been in touch, which I have. It’s
numbing my brain. I feel alone and in need of representation. shit. Fack! Agghhh!
Meanwhile there is a constant stream of enquiries for events. Thankfully William Morris have agreed to deal with events up until December, which is some consolation. But I ask myself what am I doing wrong? Take a look at any given month on the front (top left) of my web page. I should not be in this position at this point in what is a wonderful career.
However you mix it, we as artists have to be as hard nosed and clear in our business, as the agents the institutions and people who work along side us. That is just the way it is. American artists are much more clear about this. I need my business head on. I need to not let things slide but manouver the business in the direction it needs to go. And sometimes the business will dictate its direction rather than I. There are different skills needed for the business side of things. I think I have been down down down because I get one mixed up with the other, the business module and the product. I try and pretend that the product (my writing, me and my DNA) and the business (contracts, law, representation, logistics) are inseperable. It isn’t true is it.
As an artist I bear the cross of business. But as my new york friend says “Lemn!! Lemn!!! Put down the cross we need the wood for a fire!!” I’ll tell you what I am going to do. I am going to go out there and find that agent. I am going to present them with a clear picture of my workload so that he or she – invariably and thankfully “she” – can, in viewing my work, by work I mean my writing, alongside the aforementioned business. I don’t believe that the blog is therapy. But I tell you. This has helped. appreciated!