Tuesday 16 March 2010

Queen’s Head on an Angle

I sent two submissions to agents today. Off I toddled to the post office, two squidgy A4 envelopes in hand. The first was weighed, stamped and placed inside the large, grey posting bag without incident.

I placed the second envelope on the scales. The package was identical, costing 90 pence, but with the addition of an SAE or rather, an AE; it needed the stamp.

I leaned over to retrieve the Addressed Envelope and affix said stamp but before I could whisper, ‘No, let me goddamnit,’ the post office manager behind the counter had taken the envelope from my fingertips. Without a word, in front of my rapidly widening eyes, she helpfully stuck on the stamp, with ultra efficiency, in the right hand corner. The Queen’s head, however, was tilted slightly to the right.

Oh dear.

Humming an indiscernible tune, the lady roughly folded the now SAE in half and with the sides not quite meeting, and thus rendering it slightly too wide, wrestled the SAE into the main envelope. There it lay, slightly dishevelled in front of my otherwise pristine submission.

It’s a small thing, but I always put the SAE to the back. I prefer the expectant agent’s first point of reference with me not to be the SAE for notification of unsuccessful applications.

By the time the lady came to seal the envelope I could only stand and pray. Please God, I asked, let the seal be flat. I watched with horror as two creases appeared. I smiled to the lady, she was only trying to help, of course, and at least the envelope was secure.

Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, being forty, a middle child thing. Or maybe it’s OCD. But I’d have put the Queen’s head on straight. I’d have folded the SAE perfectly in half and laid it behind my submission, managing to slide it in without so much as a flutter of the piece of paper above. I’d have adjusted the envelope flap to ensure all sides touched equally, before pressing the seal shut.

It’s packaging, I told myself, once the envelope had been tossed into the grey sack, alongside my first submission. I fumbled in my purse for change. I agreed that it was indeed getting a bit warmer and with the evenings getting lighter, everyone seemed a bit happier. Even though a dark cloud was firmly ensconced around me.

An envelope does not make or break your career, now does it?

But I couldn’t reconcile the fact that on the presentation front, the submission was no longer perfect. And with the content ever far from any state of perfection, I was rather relying on it to be so.

But I like to think the glass is always half full. I like to think that soon I'll be laughing at the irony that the first time (to my knowledge) I send a submission with sub-standard presentation, it gets picked up.

I think you have to think like this, when you're trying to get published...


  1. just stumbled across your blog and laughed my head off whilst thinking "yup, sounds like OCD to me"! Will definitely be back to read more and keeping my fingers crossed that the agents aren't Virgos too!

  2. Oh no! I never thought of that! A Virgoan agent would be appalled, fingers crossed for a saggitarian, too busy partying to give presentation any thought ;-)

  3. LOL - that's just the sort of thing I fret about too :-) Good luck with your submissions!

  4. Ahhh Kate, nice to know I'm in good company :-) Have you got any news on the writing/ submission front?

  5. Oh, dude, I so feel this. Darn postal workers, trying to be all helpful and stuff. Um, no. Let me do it myself, thanks!

    Good luck in the query trenches!

  6. Hey! Honoured to see you here Elana, your blog amuses and motivates me in equal measure :-)
    And yes, it's comforting to know that we're not alone in our various foibles and hang-ups.
    My sister just told me that although she thinks the post thing is everso slightly obsessive, she does have to had the heating in the car on an even number.

  7. ... sorry, that should have been '...have to have the heating...' Tsk Tsk.

  8. It's ed.



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