Oh dear. A big fat Nellie lurking in the corner for me at the moment as I have a novel on submission with my agent so even mentioning the topic ever so quietly feels a wee bit like tempting fate. But hey – you can’t write a blog for writers without a wink to the occasional elephant.
So, then. Rejection? A little caveat first with some touching of wood and giving of thanks – for what point whingeing? What do I, after all, have to moan about? As a journalist and short story writer, I’ve made a very good living from writing for more than 25 years and every single day I ask - who else gets paid to do what they love, Teresa? To work from home? OK, so I get the occasional rejection for a story or feature pitch but for the most part I sell pretty much everything I write in these areas( she touches wood again vay vay fast) …
No. For me the open sore that is (lowering of tone ) rejection only truly began when in a fit of insanity I threw my hat in the ring to write novels.
What you have to understand here is that I don’t mind rejection, per se. Not at all. It is not that I have some big ego; that I think there aren’t enough authors out there already. It is just that I am worried about the environment. Cross my heart. It’s the storage space, you see. The novel currently on submission via my agent is actually (no surprise) not my first. I like to keep hard copies of all my old manuscripts so the husband is a little worried that if I do not get myself a book deal very soon, the whole family is going to disappear under a mountain of paper never to be seen or heard from again. It will be on the news. “Family rescued after 21 days trapped under folios of A4…”
I promise you that I have tried, in the interests of saving the environment, to give up writing novels but it is a bit like trying to give up breathing. I even went through a spell of pretending not to write any more books but it was like an alcoholic trying to hide the bottles.
“Have you started another book, Teresa?”
“No, of course not. I’d have to be mad. Don’t be ridiculous. What kind of idiot do you take me for? Another book? Moi? No. Absolutely, definitely not…”
It would, of course, probably be easier if publishers would stop being so darn encouraging. Near misses?
Let's just say I've had a few.
I was discussing this with a fellow writer at a Society of Authors lunch (I’m a member via the short story career) and she laughed. "Dahling - I had to write six books before I got a deal…”
Six? I didn’t know whether to be encouraged or appalled.
I think the truth is, no matter how many times you read all the hilarious rejection quotes for classic and best-selling novels, you probably only get to truly smile at your own rejection slips once they are a part of your past. Once you actually have the book deal. Until then you just have to take a deep breath, lower the voice and try not to catch the elephant’s eye.
Though Nellie, please feel free to watch this space (storage included).
- Photo with thanks to Justin Ennis