|Image from Google images
I do sometimes wonder if I should give up this writing lark. I keep asking myself if I’ll ever get published (properly I mean – I’m not counting anthologies). What’s the point in trying to become a better writer and constantly sharpening your pencil, writing manuscript after manuscript (I’m on number four), if all that work just ends up in a dusty computer file somewhere? However much I try to be one of those confident, persistent unpublished writers who, time after time, submit their work and shrug off the rejection letters and emails with an, ‘oh well,’ while they compose the next agent’s cover letter, I still get terribly upset by a simple ‘no’. To me each submission is like a love letter to an agent. I cannot help but feel utterly devastated when after a few months I get a rejection, or my approach goes unanswered. (This is the absolute pits: an agent who fails to pen a short answer to a serious submission by a prospective client should be burned at the stake.) A rejection makes me crawl deeply into myself and submit less, and less, and less, until I’m in a situation where I’m only waiting to hear from one person, or have no outstanding submissions at all.
Then I think, ‘Come on, be a grown-up’. I do after all know quite a lot about the publishing process. I have an MA in Creative Writing, I read trade magazines, follow various writers’, agents’ and publishers’ blogs and work in an independent book shop. I understand how difficult the market place is at the moment, how the shift from printed to digital material could turn the whole industry upside down. I also know that many successful writers were rejected hundreds of times; such as J K Rowling, Barbara Kingslover, C S Lewis, to name but just a few. I know I should take rejection just as another ‘not at this address’ hit. It’s just a game of battleships, as Savannah J. Foley so brilliantly describes in this post on Let The Words Flow -blog. A rejection only means that instead of finding the right home for my work, I’ve narrowed it down by eliminating an agent who doesn’t get my writing.