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  • Writer's pictureMike Gould

A giant leap for me, if not humankind

Moon and starry night

First Man

It's been difficult recently to avoid reading or hearing about the film of the moon landing, 'First Man'. So in a flagrant attempt to tap into the zeitgeist I thought it would be clever to suggest an analogy between the 1969 event and my own launch - that of my my first novel sent off into the unknown solar system known as 'literary agents'.

I'm Neil Armstrong. No, don't laugh.

But, what on earth (see what I did there?) has Neil Armstrong really got to do with me? Well, in sending the opening chapters, synopsis and letters off to prospective agents, there is every chance that like Apollo 11, or parts of it, it will be returned to me - splashing into my inbox some time in the near future. Safe, unharmed and with a tale to tell - although sadly not mine, unless it is 'Thanks, but no thanks.'

Or to continue the analogy on a more sombre note, perhaps like a failed mission or a craft that misses its target and disappears into the darkness, there will be no return. I will send out messages, 'Can you hear me Major Tom?', to a manuscript that has disappeared into a literary agent's black hole where no one can hear it scream. (I apologise in advance to any astrophysicists if I have mixed my space metaphors unscientifically).

Don't talk to me about titles

Let's ditch the literary devices for the moment. The bare facts are that I have sent the opening fifty pages or so of my fantasy novel to three agents, and that is at least a start - whatever happens. I vacillated on the title, calling it 'Procter's Choice' in two, and 'Rise of the Andahar' in the third. Clearly the latter is more of a fantasy-sounding title, but I quite like the plain, Anglo-Saxon simplicity of the other. I have spent ages (longer than it took the Mars Rover to find a landing spot) to choose a title - and I still haven't done it. Given the version of the novel I'm sending is one of many iterations perhaps I should call it 'Procter 13' - 'though given that particular Apollo mission's malfunction, perhaps not.

The new frontier

It feels like a sort of achievement to get this far, but perhaps rather than a real moon landing, this was more like all the virtual steps and simulated attempts that preceded the real thing. Maybe my novel is the preparation for the real thing, yet to be written - the giant leap still to be made. Somewhere, there is another virgin moon, its dusty surface untouched by print - waiting quietly for the clatter of my laptop keys to spatter words across its lunar landscape. A new piece of writing always has the promise of the yet-to-be-discovered, a space where for a moment everything and anything is possible, an uninhabited panorama where everyday gravity is yet to drag you down.

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