Keeping the faith

I had just gotten off Skype with my literary agent. This has been a strange year of unexpected delays. Even my new headshots from late spring are facing delays. The photographer texted me to say he had developed the photographs (because he is old school and uses specific black and white film, take it or leave it and I love that about him) and that he is really happy with them. He could not wait to show me but our schedules keep clashing. How can even new photographs be delayed?

Early this year, an American publisher got in touch with plans for my coffee table book and an exhibition. My agent went through with negotiations, things went well, I went back to Singapore for a meeting with them and everything seemed to run smoothly. Funding applications went along fine as well and approval went through save for one detail. And everything was off. I’m back at square one. My agent was shocked, I was numb. She then tells me she is moving to Africa. I think that made me anxious all day. Plus she’s flying off for the Frankfurt book fair tomorrow, I just felt uneasy that she hasn’t pushed me for more. But we finally spoke tonight and reaffirmed our timelines for both projects. That’s the thing, she’s never pushed me, Ukes said I don’t need an agent to coddle me. But you know what, it is a breath of fresh air. I remember one particular day last year when I had a particularly tiring and long rehearsal and a last minute fitting before rushing over to meet my agent. Everything overran so I ended up meeting her at her house. I love what I do, but running around in Singapore during rush hour (not to mention the peak hour surcharge) can really cause some stiff shoulders. She made me a cup of tea, and checked if I had my meal for the day. I hadn’t. She fixed me a cucumber sandwich, drew the blinds to let an orange evening light in, and we sat in her spacious living room, surrounded by shelves after shelves of books as I shifted from my fluster and cleared my mind to discuss the novel.

I was still in the midst of writing at that time, but that day I knew that when the manuscript was done, I wanted to work with them. There is an almost renaissance approach to how she works. It’s not talk about commercial or numbers or gimmicks, she simply heard me out about my project and believes in it. “It will be done.” I needed to hear it again. A fictional biography, 5 decades worth of stories simply cannot be rushed. I told myself that, and many around me push, when is it done, why is it taking so long.. But she believes we will bide and when it is right it will happen. There is a particular publisher I hope to work with that will suit the genre. As we spoke, we just started chatting about life, about Tokyo, Africa and book fairs. And I started to believe again.

So there is a timeline for the novel, but the other project. That one I wanted out by this year. I looked at my proposal again and recall a recent conversation with my sis about our influences. I realized I am a lot like my grandfather. I also found out that he is Pisces too. From my research time with my grandparents, I heard many different sides of him and I saw that he was once such a passionate performer. I always knew he was really handsome and dashing when he was younger… Even when he was older he was really good looking. I lived with my grandparents during the earlier part of my childhood but grandma always had me as a little ally. I think she nurtured a big side of me but my nature is actually scarily like grandpa. This makes me both proud and afraid. He was a great performer, and in another time he would have been so much more. Grandma was a great performer too but in another time, she would have been a great CEO. When grandpa wanted to show us magic tricks, she would tell us not to waste our time, and to instead study. I used to rummage through grandpa’s magic stuff. There is just one or two items left by my great grandfather, who died too early during WWII, he was innovative for his time, and his peers who outlived him made some impact in the entertainment scene. He only left his ancient old magic props but beyond that, what I am more interested in is the physicality of both my grandpa and my great grandfather, their acrobatic skills their craft their work. Grandma decided none of that was going on any further in the family. After 3 generations she had about enough. My room is currently my dad’s magic props storeroom. Like grandpa he builds his own props as a hobby.

Grandpa sings different tunes, behind grandma’s back he tells me to go for it. And to at least tell the story. As an actor, a writer, a sociology student… That’s what I want to do, tell stories, impact from within. So here we go again, revived from disappointment we shall await good news this fall, and by next spring.

Don’t want to give away too much now, but can’t brag about how good looking my grandfather is without pictures. Grandma is really good looking too, but she’s not the one who passed along the idealistic/dreamer/creative genes … She can keep her day job as my broker/dictator though.

October, don’t let me down. Frankfurt, give us some good news.

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