Thursday, November 16, 2017


on the road again

It's been over a year since I posted on this blog.  I thought it was time to go dark since I had moved beyond it.  I had published one novel, and was busily finishing a second - and the second was in the hands of a new and capable agent who loved it.  It was going to be a great book club read, she said, and her British counterpart would also get busy pitching in the UK.

This wonderful new agent had given stellar advise during the revision process, much insightful criticism and superb suggestions about where I should take the narrative and the main character. We spent hours on the telephone talking about the book, and once she believed in it enough to represent it, she said she would not give up.

Then she gave up.

After sending it to nine editors who thought the narrative didn't have sufficient momentum, she told me she was sorry but she'd run out of steam.  But I should not give up.  I should keep on going, she said.  Oh, and she'd be happy to consider my NEXT book. 

Many of us have heard that one before - and I guess it's mean as a compliment. But this IS the book I've written, and it might be years before I finish another. 

 I remembered something a previous agent told me, when I asked what book she would love and also be able to sell.  She shook her head ruefully. "It doesn't exist," she said.  "You've already given me the book I love. But the book I could sell?  Well, that would be the next Obama memoir."

I was in a cafe in London's West End drinking flat whites with my daughter Rozzie and our friend Walter. "Maybe I should write that Obama memoir," I said. "I will call it The Stupidity of Hope."

"I've got a better title," Rozzie said with a smile. "How about The Irrelevance of Hope?" 

Thus this blog was born: something to occupy, amuse and glean a readership. I wrote for pure enjoyment.  I wasn't trying to sell anything. I was just writing - and it was fun to write freely and find readers who responded.

Then my agent actually sold my first novel to a small independent publisher in London.  I was thrilled.  Sure, there was no distribution - but what did I care!  The spell of non-publication had at last been broken and I could move on.

So after a while I stopped writing this blog. I was now writing a new book.  But just like the game Monopoly you do not always pass go or collect your $200.  So I'm going round the board again with a new book which evidently cannot sell. 

At least, not yet.

"You aren't at square one," said an optimistic colleague - a bookseller and poet. "You've learned something new." 

Yes.  I have. And though disheartened, I will no doubt keep on writing just as I keep on reading.  I'm taking stock. And will revise. 

Also, the writing and reading world rolls on and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. 

What a tonic it was to host Chris Matthews, when he discussed his book Bobby Kennedy A Raging Spirit.

I have stimulating discussions every month in my book clubs with other readers - and I'm honored to be involved with Fall For The Book Festival

Here's Mohsin Hamid - who spoke at 2017 Fall for the Book

And here's Colson Whitehead, another featured speaker at our festival

I'm going to post new material here about book events or books I'm reading or maybe the writing process itself and I hope we can get a conversation going.  Maybe there are new frontiers in publishing and maybe we can talk about those.  This is The Irrelevance of Hope Take Two!  And hope is not irrelevant.  I was only joking.  So please come along for the ride!


  1. I missed your blog. Keep writing, and keep the faith on your book.

  2. Thanks for keeping this blog going. Keep up the great work.

  3. Nothing will stop you...keep writing...that was only one agent. 'Falling' has stuck with me, it's characters moody and leaving a melancholy/longing in me years after reading your book. I want to read your newest please. ❤️