Thursday, 22 December 2011

Remember the Journey...

There is a saying that the destination isn't important, it's the journey that counts and it came to me recently that I've been so focused on my attempts to get published I've forgotten to enjoy the process of getting there.

Okay so I don't have an agent, I don't have a publishing deal and it may be many years before I eventually get there but this whole year has been amazing. If I think back to where I was last year at this time then I can hardly believe how much has changed-
You see I spent most of 2010 in agony from the prolapsed disc in my spine, I could hardly move off the sofa for much of it and the constant pain made me miserable, grumpy and depressed. Last Christmas I had such a bad episode I couldn't move off the sofa, at all, for five days...

Then in January I had surgery on my spine and while recovering I started writing and this is my journey...

In April I went to my first writing event, then a workshop, then a SCBWI event- something I wouldn't have been able to do at all a few months earlier.
I finished my first book and started my second.
I submitted and got rejected.
I got requested.
Got rejected.
I rewrote my first book.
I finished my second book.
Then I submitted again, got rejected, got requested.
Got rejected.

But that's only part of my journey, I've also;

1. spent this year going out, meeting other writers and agents and publishers.
2. read masses of childrens books and loads of books about writing.
3. spent hours on the internet looking at agents and blogs and joined an online SCBWI crit group.
4. discovered that I love writing, I particuarly love writing fantasy for children.
5. found out that I can complete a project, I can edit and rewrite and I can work to a deadline.
6. And most importantly, my biggest achievement, the one thing that I was desperate to know when I started is that....YES, I CAN WRITE!

I can write. I wasn't sure I could when I started but I can do it.
And I can write well enough to interest agents, okay, not quite enough to sign me but interest nonetheless ;)
So my resolution for next year is that while I try and hone the craft that is writing I will also try to enjoy the journey, to remember where I started and how far I've come.
I've got my eye on the destination, that's true and it may well take me years to get there but the journey is going pretty well.
Here's wishing you well on your journey.
Bon voyage fellow writers!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Superstitious moi?

I don't usually consider myself a superstitious person but recently found myself behaving quite oddly while waiting to hear back from agents. I started to imagine that somehow my behaviour could influence their decisions somehow, as if the cosmos was watching me and if I did/ didn't do a particular thing that would affect my luck and my chances of getting an agent.

Examples of my madness included;

Ten minutes of fantasising about what I would say when an agent rang to offer me a deal led to hours of trauma that by indulging in my little fantasy I had forever ruined any chance of it ever coming true.
I also spent some time trying to prepare myself for the worst - but then worried that my lack of confidence and belief would in fact be responsible for my rejection.

I had a small crisis about not having anything suitable to wear if I was ever invited to meet an agent. This would of course result in my wearing something unsuitable to the meeting whereby the agent will change her mind about representing me due to my horrendous wardrobe choices.
So then I found the perfect outfit. Only I refused to buy it in case such an act of reckless confidence would somehow be jinxing my chances...

There are more along the same lines but to be frank they're too embarassing to recount. The truth is, I was trying to pretend that I had some influence over the decisions of others but let's face it once it's out there, once your work is submitted, you have no control. Decisions will be made, regardless of anything I do or don't do.
The only control we have is making sure that whatever we send out is as good as possible, that we're sending it to the right people and then the rest is up to fate, the cosmos and of course the good luck fairy who lives at the bottom of my garden...

Friday, 9 December 2011

How NOT to cope with rejection

Okay, so this week I have had my full manuscript rejected by two different agents. It's a bit like someone punching you in the stomach, waiting for you to get up and then headbutting you rather hard.
So, understandably I've felt a bit hard done by and no doubt every author at some point has felt the same but I believe there are some things you should never do, however upset you are.

1. Reply to the agent/publisher who rejected you and inform them that as they are obviously unable to appreciate true genius and should therefore quit their job and become a parking attendant instead.

2. Phone up the agent/publisher who rejected you and play "Every step you take," By The Police.

3. Turn up at the offices of the agent/publisher who rejected you and demand a meeting so you can explain in detail exactly how brilliant your work is.

4. Quit your job, sell your house and move to an island in the Scottish hebrides so you can be alone with your despair.

5. Set up a website entitiled "Why all agents/publishers are idiots/morons" and send the link to your entire contact list.

In fact don't do anything except send a nice polite note thanking the agent/publisher for their time.
And keep on hoping because one day it could be you.
(Only not if you've offended every agent in the country by doing one of the above!)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Cunning Ways to Cope with Rejection

Okay, here goes -

1. Rationalisation. (you know; it's not personal, it doesn't mean you can't write etc) If however that doesn't do it for you try,

2. Staying in your pajamas all day, eating ice cream and watching Gone with the wind (or whatever floats your boat of course). This will hopefully make you feel better but if you're still traumatised how about,

3. Go out with your friends, get paralytic and do embarrassing things you can't remember in the morning only to find they've been recorded by your "friends" and now your rendition of I will survive on the pool table while wearing a traffic cone has two million hits on YouTube. Now you have humiliation, mortification and horror to distract you from your rejection.

4. Realise that those who rejected you are obviously idiots/morons and not worthy of your talent. When you are more famous then J.K you will be able to ignore them at posh parties, knowing they are suffering at their own inadequacies for rejecting your work in the first place.

5. Okay this is my favourite and I must admit I stole it from Stephen King and his memoir "On Writing" - apparently in his youth he had a babysitter who would frequently decide to hold him down and fart on his head. In retrospect Stephen felt this helped him cope with his frequent rejections. So, remember the next time you get rejected that bad as it may seem at least noone held you down and farted on your head!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Woe is me!

Woe is me indeed because today I had an email from an agent who was reading my full manuscript. Nothing can quite describe the feeling.
I'd been opening my email with trepidation for the last six weeks while waiting to hear from agents and then, today, there it was...
Of course my first thought was- oh no, not another rejection, but a tiny little treacherous part of my brain wondered if maybe, just maybe, this email might be the one I've been waiting and praying for, the one where an agent tells me how much they love my work and that they'd like to meet me and make all my dreams come true...
It wasn't. It was a very nice rejection, (if there is such a thing.) and my stomach sank into my boots, (metaphorical ones of course).I read it through again, and again but it still said the same thing. No.
So, I took a deep breath and then came the rationalising;
It wasn't personal.
It didn't mean I was a bad writer.
She wasn't the right agent for me.
Maybe I'll get lucky the next time.

And all of those things are true but it still hurts. It's still hard. It makes me wonder why I'm putting myself through this, why I keep trying, why I'm opening myself up repeatedly for pain and rejection ?? Surely it would be easier to just stop, give up, let it go.
After all how many people really have their dreams come true?
One in a hundred...a thousand...a million?
Who knows?
It's not the point is it because I can't give up.
I will try and try and try again like my mum told me to so many times when I was growing up.
I may still fail, that's life after all but at least I'll know it wasn't for the want of trying.

Author on the Edge of what?

Well, that's a good question and there are two possible answers.

1. I'm on the edge of a nervous breakdown while I try and find an agent and get my work published.
2. I'm on the edge of success, fame and fortune.

I can see which answer is most likely, (I'm not completely deluded)but there needs to be some hope in my life otherwise what's the point of it all?
I've read all the statistics, I know how hard it is to get an agent and a publisher especially in the world of childrens books but getting published is not just about the quality of your book (although this is significant), it's also about whether you can survive the trauma of submitting to agents, waiting for a response, getting rejected and trying again...and again...and again probably.
It's about getting out there and meeting people, making contact,selling yourself and let's face it some of it is entirely luck!
For me this whole process is the hardest bit. I love writing. I love it. Creating worlds and characters and plots is a joy to me, it's also horribly hard work at times but all of that is easy compared to the herculean task of trying to get your work published.
So, I will be attempting to stay sane while undergoing this process and if you want to know how I get on keep an eye on this blog.