Tag Archives: dealing with rejection

Today’s Post is Brought to you…

…by Old Age, Increasing Decrepitude and the Depths of Despair.

Why, you may ask, and the answer is simple. Today – lo! – is my birthday.

Image: mashable.com

Image: mashable.com

However, instead of dwelling on the relentless march of time, and the fact that I now have knees that crack in weird ways and hairs in strange places and the tendency to prefer a nice evening in by the fire watching ‘Antiques Roadshow’ to a night down the pub, I am going to list five things about myself that I didn’t know this time last year, and which – on the whole – are positive, self-affirming and causes for hopefulness in the face of my rapidly advancing age.

Ready? Okay. Here we go.

1. I make the best cup of tea out of anyone I know.

This has only come to light in recent months because I now make a lot more tea, from actual scratch, than I used to. In my previous life, I used to stand in line in a cafeteria and press a shiny little button, and my cup would magically overflow with tepid, tasteless brown liquid pretending to be tea (or coffee, and sometimes a barely potable mixture of the two.) Now that I no longer do that, I have learned that I make a darn fine cup of tea, whether it’s with loose leaves or teabags, and that it’s not a skill to make light of. Having the ability to make a good cuppa will take you places, I always say. Having said that, it hasn’t taken me anywhere yet, but I live in hope.

2. I have an almost unlimited ability to amuse myself.

As a child who read from an early age, I have never (to my knowledge) been truly, properly bored. The idea that a person could possibly have nothing to do while there are books to read or stories to write has always been alien to me. However, over the last year I have truly realised that if one is satisfied to live inside one’s own head, one can never properly be unhappy, and that my favourite place to be is – as you might have expected – inside my own head. Over the past year I’ve often been stressed, and I’ve often been frustrated, and at least fourteen times a week I’ve been convinced I’m an idiot who’s taken one step too far into the wide blue yonder, but I have never once been bored.

3. ‘Twenty thousand words’ sounds a lot longer than it really is.

So, this time last year I was deep in the throes of ‘Tider: Mark I’, which is now languishing in a box file, never to see the light of day again. Since then I have written ‘Tider: Mark II’, ‘Eldritch’ and am currently well over halfway finished with ‘Emmeline…’, and I have learned that no words are wasted, all ideas are good for something and that the idea of writing thousands of words is more daunting than actually writing them. Honestly. I would never have believed I’d be well on my way to knocking out three novels in one year unless I’d just put aside the little doubting voice that whispered ‘Poppycock! It can’t be done!’ and decided to go for it anyway.

It can be done. Words add up pretty quickly. Twenty thousand words is not a lot of words – it just sounds like it is.

4. Asking for, and receiving, criticism and feedback is not as bad as I thought.

All the publications I now have to my credit have happened in the last year. My work is now out there in the world, forevermore, eternally.

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I'm Freaking Out!) Image: threadbombing.com

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I’m Freaking Out!)
Image: threadbombing.com

This time last year, the very idea of anyone casting their eyes over my work would’ve brought me out in hives. Now, a year later, I’ve been privileged enough to have received feedback from all over the world, from other writers and from several agents, and I’ve realised that receiving feedback on my work is not the world-ending, mind-bending thing I thought it was. Of course, I’ve had to overcome one of my greatest fears and actually put some of my work out there, on the chopping block (so to speak), in order to reach this happy situation; once upon a time, I would’ve believed submitting my work was beyond my capabilities. It isn’t. I’ve done it, and I fully intend to do it again, quite possibly repeatedly, and I’m going to keep doing it until I get tired of it – which, I suspect, will be ‘never.’

5. It’s possible to be rejected, and not die.

I’ve been rejected a lot over the last year. Take it from me when I tell you that I have entered literally millions* of competitions in which I have not been successful, and I have submitted work for publication which has come back with a polite ‘No thank you, but best of luck with your future career, &c.’, or which has received no reply at all. The important thing is: I have lived to tell the tale. It has taken me a long time to realise that every rejection is a learning experience, and I have learned a lot about my own resilience over the last year.

Being rejected isn’t nice – but it’s not fatal, either.

To be honest, I had hoped I’d be further down the road to success by now, but – realistically – I am happy with my progress. Writing is a game of patience, determination and constant focus, which I now know I can bring to the table. I have also learned, over the past year, that deciding to chase the shiny, ephemeral bubble which is my dream of a writing life was the right thing to do, despite the near-hourly jitter attacks it gives me. The most important thing I’ve learned this year, however, is that I have the best friends and family in the world, who have cheered me on every step of the way, and without whom I could do none of it.

Image: stelzlfamily.com

Image: stelzlfamily.com

So, it’s happy birthday to me. I hope I’ll keep learning, and keep writing, over the year to come – and, with any luck, I’ll have even more to report this time next year.

(But I don’t want to think about this time next year, because by then I’ll be another year older, and that’s too depressing to think about. )

Have a great day, and always remember – as long as you’re learning, you’re living.

Image: cakedvintage.com

Image: cakedvintage.com

*Okay, so not literally millions. I’ve also learned I can be guilty of gross hyperbole, for which I apologise.

A Little Bit of Kindness

So, I have received another rejection.

Image: dailymail.co.uk

Image: dailymail.co.uk

The funny thing is, though, that this time – it’s not so bad.

I mean, yesterday (when I got the word) I felt sad, and disappointed, and upset. I felt angry, but it was at myself – how could I have written something that didn’t fit the bill, for so many reasons? Didn’t I know any better? – and I was glad I was alone when I got the news, because I needed to be. I think the reason I feel a little low, but generally okay, today is because the rejection was done so kindly, and so generously, that it was the next best thing to an acceptance. It was full of praise for my work (except, of course, for the bits that weren’t so strong) and it was full of encouragement and support. It gave me an option to rework and resubmit, and it expressed an interest in seeing more of my writing.

So, really, I couldn’t ask for a better rejection email, if that makes any sense.

Now, however, I have several things I need to do – and, of course, because life is like that, they’re all happening at the same time.

Item the First: Tweak ‘Tider’ – just a little – in order to get it ready to submit. I’m almost happy with it, but there’s just something not quite right about the end of it. This weekend will be partly spent buried in my printout of the text. Yay? Yay.

Item the Second: Get my NaNo project (still nameless) off the ground. I felt so deflated yesterday that – just for a second – I considered pulling out of NaNoWriMo, but luckily I came to my senses and realised that would be stupid. So, I’m still in. Today, I plan to write at least 1500 words, which is slightly under-target, but a good start.

Item the Third: Think about ways to make ‘Eldritch’ right. As hard as it was to hear that my beloved book just isn’t quite good enough, I realised that the person giving me this feedback is a professional in the industry who knows exactly what they’re talking about, and who is, furthermore, completely right. It’s funny how writers just can’t read their own stuff exactly as a reader would; no matter how hard you try to detach, it’s always going to be a different experience for you, the writer, reading your own work as it is for someone coming to it completely fresh. I had always imagined ‘Eldritch’ to be the first part of a trilogy – from its earliest existence in my mind, that’s how I pictured and planned it. Now, I know that the story isn’t enough to sustain a trilogy. And I’m okay with that.

Really. I am. Image: runningofthereeses.com

Really. I am.
Image: runningofthereeses.com

Submitting your work to agents is scary. The idea of a knowledgeable, business-minded, critical (in a good way), and exacting pair of eyes reading your tender words is akin to that feeling we all remember from our teenage years – the terror of trying to impress someone we like, and hoping against hope they like us back. The tension of waiting for replies and praying, every day, for an email or a phonecall with news one way or the other is a major drag on your health, both mental and physical. I personally feel like I could sleep for a year, but I know that’s not an option.

But making a dream come true isn’t something you can leave to your Fairy Godmother. It takes work, and devotion, and sweat, and pain. It takes the bittersweet realisation that you’re almost, but not quite, good enough. It will – hopefully, at least – be lined with the sort of kind, compassionate email that I received yesterday, the type that tells you ‘You’re not ready yet, but very soon, you will be, and I want to be there when you are’; it will be full of days like yesterday. And all you can do is be grateful for the help, smile, and move on to the next step.

Easier said than done, but believe me – it can be done.

Happy Friday, and happy weekend to you all. I hope a restful couple of days are ahead for you. And, while we’re on the subject, happy November! How did that happen?

Image: businessinsider.com

Image: businessinsider.com