One of my overwhelming childhood memories is of yellow fish, smoked haddock to be precise. Yes I know this is odd but my Mama (that’s Nan or Gran to you) ate it most Fridays. A staunch catholic, she believed that it was a holy fish bearing the mark of Christ.
I can still see her now holding up the long, plasticy fillet I already didn’t want to eat. “Look,” she said. “Jesus’ thumb print, see….?” I nodded in agreement – trust me you didn’t argue with Mama – but I wasn’t convinced. From an early age it was obvious to me that we sometimes see what we want to see.
Mama also believed that if she tried hard enough she could make my poker straight hair curl. She used to make me sleep in sponge rollers. Smiling as she unwrapped the gentle waves she’d happily choke me with cheap hairspray whilst marvelling at her creation. It didn’t matter that each and everyone of those pathetic excuses for a curl would disappear as soon as I stepped outside the door, she never gave up believing. If Christ could mark a fish then surely I could manage a curl.
Call it faith, determination, naivety even but that kind of blind belief in something despite all the evidence against it has always amazed me. I am happy to take a chance on things but I like to narrow my odds. I take risks but they are calculated, I am after all one of the few people ever to leave Vegas in profit. Over the years I’ve learnt how to play the game and it has served me well.
Yet with writing I seem to have reverted to my adolescent recklessness. Impulsive, hedonistic, perhaps even narcissistic I’m enjoying the ride. But I know this is risky.
I’ve had some feedback from an agent on my princess book. They loved the concept, liked my writing but warned me in the nicest possible way that it wasn’t mainstream. They were very generous with their feedback and offered a range of ideas that would help my work to find a better fit on the bookshelves. But they also suggested that if I loved what I was doing perhaps I should just keep going. If I am prepared to take the risk then perhaps there is an editor out there who will also take a chance.
So I know what I should do. I’m unpublished, I should do everything to increase my chances of success. I may be a novice writer but I have quickly learnt the rules of the game. And yet to follow them is a betrayal of my instinct, it just feels wrong. Blind faith at last, Mama I’m finally eating the yellow fish.
Photo Credit: Fabian Bromann http://www.flickr.com/photos/rastafabi/