preparing for battle

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preparing for battle

Some days feel like one fight after another. Getting breakfast into the kids, putting long pants, not shorts, on Louis, even getting up out of bed is a battle.

This morning’s mission was to make an appointment with a pediatrician, because our GP won’t give the kids their BCG vaccines. It’s not even super urgent that they get this particular vaccine, except that I have the box sitting in the fridge.

In France, when you want a vaccine, you get a prescription for it, then go to the pharmacy and pick up the vaccine, and then take it along to your next doctor’s appointment. My GP gave me the prescription, so now I have the vaccine, but I can’t get someone to inject it into my poor offspring.

I know all the French I need in order to have this conversation, so long as the receptionist doesn’t go off script. She did. I apologised, told her I didn’t understand,I’m still learning French. I asked her to speak more slowly, explained what I needed repeatedly… and then she hung up on me. I may have been a little over-tired but I promptly burst into tears. Then made myself a large coffee and put the appointment-making-palaver on tomorrow’s to-do list.

Which is a joke. Wednesdays are not for getting things done. Wednesdays I have both kids all day long.

And tomorrow afternoon, while both kids sleep at the same time (fingers crossed) I will be participating in a twitter pitch competition of sorts. A bunch of literary agents will be watching the hashtag #adpit and I’ve got two novels ready to pitch. I’ve spent the past few weeks fine-tuning and torturing my manuscripts and query letters, the first line of which has to be this brilliant sentence summing up the main conflict of the story.

For the twitter competition it has to fit in the 160 character limit. This is what I’ve got:

The new Earl of Belvedere will distract the London gossips from Lady Ailsa but he poses a greater danger than slander ever could. #adpit

and for the other,

Sun loathes rugby, with good reason. When she unwittingly falls for an AllBlack, he won’t let her go without a fight. Sexy NZ Romance #adpit

For the query letters there’s a bit more room for length but those agents are famous sticklers for the one sentence thing. And I suppose it’s a good way to make sure a writer really knows how to write. It takes focus and a careful use of language. A good story doesn’t hurt.

Of course, if the pitch (1 sentence) or the query letter do their jobs then I’ll be submitting several chapters or even the whole manuscript, so I’ve been fine-tuning for a while. I’m ready. Or, I hope I’m ready. I’ve thought I was ready in the past. I’ve even been asked for manuscripts, but in the end the agents didn’t bite. So my manuscripts probably weren’t ready.

Facing off with a nearly-3 year old at eight in the morning and submitting my carefully edited writing are two rather different battles, but the secret to both is in the prep. I’ve prepared my manuscripts over weeks and months. Getting shoes onto a wriggling target is a little more of-the-moment.

Right this minute he’s trying to use his drinking straw on a plate full of green curry sauce (very mild version) and rice. I think this is the stage of development when kids are independently capable of lots of things and don’t like all the things they’re NOT doing independently. So, basically, if I ask him to do something he immediately wants to do ANYTHING else, just to be sure he’s the boss of the moment.

Still, he’s rather cute, even with the attitude. Damn.

How do I prepare for every instance of that? Earlier nights and potent first-thing cups of coffee would help, sure. Reverse psychology and limited choices (“sit down or go to your bedroom,” for example) have their place.

Keeping my cool… well, that’s easier with the literary agents. With them it’s business. And they get one hit. If they say, ‘No,’ it’s over. Louis says ‘no’ and the fight is just beginning.

A receptionist hangs up on you and the fight is over, but also just beginning. I ran the whole conversation by my French teacher this afternoon. He said I’d been clear. He only corrected me when I said ‘une rendez-vous’. Turns out appointments are masculine.