Writing is a lonely business.
A thick outer skin must be ordered – I believe they are available online – and worn so the writer doesn’t disappear into a tightly wrapped ball of fibres, which can later unravel into the distance hauling away what little snippets of self-confidence have been painstakingly garnered through the occasional success.
Pitching brilliant ideas to magazines is a thankless task often shot down by breathtaking silence from editors. We shake our phone, switch our computer on and off, in the vain hope the longed for acceptance and promise of small monetary gain has merely disappeared into that great universe called the ether. But no, the phone is working, so too the computer – every email from that online site from which you so rashly bought two years ago is managing to escape the junk box.
For those of us trying our hands at longer pieces – a book for instance – rejection from literary agents becomes a way of life and we really do grow an extra epidermis. We nod and smile wanly when our well-meaning friends trot out J K Rowling, again.
In need of moral support recently, I wasted hours but eventually came across a wonderful piece which cheered me no end. Did you know, for instance, that Agatha Christie had five years of rejection? The Da Vinci Code, two years. Fireburn, my manuscript is not a thriller, but I found the following critique of John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold of utmost comfort, “He hasn’t got any future.” Mary Higgins Clark, J G Ballard, Stephen King and many other now respected authors have received numerous dismissals. And whilst I don’t put myself in their elevated ranks, their perseverance and self-belief does provide an inkling of hope.
Why do I need hope? Well, I almost blew it. Only time will tell. An email arrived from a relatively new, small press chosen because it was young and, I hoped, hungry. Keen to make a name. Eager to do the best for both me and themselves. I read those magic words – we want more. And then seven – count them – seven days later another email appeared saying they were interested. A flurry of further communication, culminating in a phone call, and then, and then, the moment when the contract lands with a ping.
The cork is popped. Texts to loyal readers of both early and later versions of my book, three years in the making, are sent with exultant responses of the ‘told you so’ type. And then, and then, you actually open the contractual attachment and the fizz goes flat.
Having been verbally assured of the stringency of editing – both content and copy – you find the contract is full of typos and inconsistencies. A cobbled together document, which would ensure any lawyer worth his fee slit his throat rather than let out it the door.
The bubbles have truly fizzled. And those little inconsistencies tamped down during the phone call merge to create a cacophonous roar. You have been seduced.
No, let’s be honest! I was seduced. Seduced by the thought of a publisher who promised marketing to all and sundry – here and abroad. Foreign rights – no problem. Film rights – of course. I was already sashaying along the red carpet – a yellow dress, I thought – as actors clamored to praise the role I had written for them.
The harsh hand of reality grabbed my throat on the seventh or eighth reading of the contract. How could I sign with a company who didn’t care about their own words, let alone mine? So yesterday I wrote thanking them for their interest and time, and closed that portal.
Now, I shall pull on my newly-bought skin and head back to the computer screen to scroll through pages of literary agents and publishers.
There must be one out there who might be interested in a book called Fireburn!
Oh, the sad irony of seductive lessons learned. Well put, my friend. Write On!
I always think Wind in the Willows was a prime example at 80 rejections and many rude words prior to becoming childhood staple for over a 100 years …not sure how long but 80 publishers in those days of small populations would have pulled up most of the literary circles in the UK.
Good luck with it and I am sure it is brilliant and just waiting for the right person to look at it and see it for all its wonderful possibilities. Let us know so we can all buy copies and get you onto the New York best seller …then it zooms. Had a friend whose cousin wrote a good first book and whose family bought out a huge number of copies just to get it onto the best seller list…and sales are going very well now on their own.
Bravo and chin up as Joan would say.
Apple you made the correct decision and when the right contact comes along you will know. I am sure “Fireburn” is brilliant and I look forward to seeing it in print. Bon Chance!
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Be stalwart, my talented friend! Spend your time carefully choosing just the right RED dress for the elusive red carpet event, I am quite certain your time is coming.
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at least they did not ask for a signing-on payment…..That would be seduction with menaces
It’s good to have standards …. onwards Apple!