In the roll of an eye

April 12, 2010

Ah, so a note has just appeared in the mail saying it’s that time again. Time to make an appointment with the eye doctor. Perfect – I’ve been having some problems with my baby-blues for a while now, so not a bad idea to get them checked out.
You see, I have a bit of a problem with eye-rolling. Always have, and it’s got quite bad recently. The problem began at school. Lacking the nerve to be honestly and openly BAD, I simply became an eye-roller – master of the swift, fleeting head swivel, the sardonic lip curl, the rebellious flaring of the nostril. And yes, that eye-roll, just out of sight of the teacher.

I blame others for my descent into eye-rolling virtuosity. People like Miss Eyre, leader of the woodwind ensemble during my teenage years. A lady of stout ankles and formidable shoes who would peer through her spectacles as a waggle of her flute led us into a honking decimation of Mozart.

‘No, girls, we DON’T tap our whole foot in time to the beat. We only tap our TOES inside our SHOES.’

Eyes start to swivel.

‘Modern music? No, girls, at St Helen’s School we are not interested in music composed after 1850.’

Eyes rolling so fast I can practically see my brain.

And really, eye-rolling has stood me in good stead ever since – during dreary speeches, endless meetings (at which publishers excel), pomposity and frustration of every kind. Try it and see. If you can get really skilled, no one will even spot it!

Agenting has introduced me to a new kind of eye-roll. The submission-related kind that makes my eyeballs spin – not in response to the writing (on which you will hopefully find me quite kind), but to various other triggers.

Here is a handy guide to Sarah’s Eye-Rolling Hall of Fame, courtesy of her inbox – and with only a modicum of poetic licence in order to protect identities:

Roll 1:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I am an extraordinary and potentially very famous person. My writing is a cross between that of Charles Dickens, Philip Pullman and Tolkien. You’d better sign me up FAST while you still can.’

Roll 2:
‘Dear Ms Davies, You don’t want to represent me? Your loss.’

Roll 3:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I have written a series of 46 books and I’m sending you now 5 pages from the middle of Book 7.’

Roll 4:
‘Dear Ms Davies, My daughter is a star of stage and screen, and has her own show on MTV, though she is only 4 years old. She has written a fictional story book with a heroine looking remarkably like herself. It will change the world. I advise you to take up this opportunity soonest.’

Roll 5:
‘Dear Ms Davies, My book is an urban paranormal romance, which comes in at 365,000 words and 623 pages, single spaced. I am happy to send it over in a Humvee.’

Roll 6:
‘Dear Dan Lazar of Writers House . . . . .’

Roll 7:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I am resending my query because I sent it to you originally on Christmas Day, the day before yesterday, and you still have not got back to me.’

Roll 8:
‘Dear Ms Davies, This is the third query I have sent you today, in separate emails . . . ‘

Roll 9:
‘Dear Ms Davies, sorry I can’t be bothered to send you an actual query, but here are the pages anyway.’

Roll 10:
‘Dear Ms Davies, Can you please publish my book in your publishing house?’

Roll 11:
‘Dear Ms Sara Davis . . .’

Roll 12:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I am delighted to send you some pages of my novel, complete with endorsement from bestselling author Fred Snooks, whose book CHAINSAWS OF THE WESTERN WORLD has made him a sensation in Pig Hollow, South Dakota.’

Roll 13:
‘Dear Ms Davies, If you can help to get my book published, my cousin says he will promote it in his grocery store.’

Roll 14:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I have studied your website and acquainted myself with your tastes. I am therefore delighted to send you my novel, which is a thriller about rape and incest in Soviet Russia, aimed at readers of John Grisham.

Roll 15:
[Scroll down immense list of agent addressees. I don’t get as far as Ms Davies.]

Roll 16:
‘Dear Ms Davies, my story about a race of little people called Weeeeneez would make an excellent movie (probably by Disney) and I have already designed a range of merchandise. Please click through the 7 links below to read a sample of my screenplay. Then call me to set up a phone call on Thursday.’

Roll 17:
‘Dear Ms Davies, I think we are a match made in heaven; shall we make sweet music together?’

I could continue but my eyeballs seem to have pivoted so far they’ve got stuck, so I’m off to that nice eye doctor for a little R&R. Oh, and some drops.

See you soon (I hope!).