That’s it. You’ve researched and written and re-written and edited and re-written and proofed and, oh damn it, re-written again until you realise that your re-writes and edits have become changes rather than improvements and you realise it’s time to stop. It’s time to submit.
Trawling through the internet and the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is actually more exciting than it sounds; so many of those agencies have your name all over them. General fiction they cry? Yes! With a thoughtful edge, a bit of Maggie O’Farrell thrown in? Yes! Open to submissions, looking for debut authors. Yes, oh yes.
And then it starts. The wait. The constant ‘just checking’ the in-box, the racing to the letter box which you know is counter-productive because anything sent by the post these days is only going to be a rejection so why make the moment come any quicker? The ‘no news’ starts to ache but it’s tinged with just a frisson of expectation. There is the smallest of chances that it’s your book being read and discussed at that moment. Why not? you ask, when you’ve just poured yourself that umpteenth glass of self-belief, every writer starts somewhere.
Then comes the right hook, square in the centre of your self-confidence. It’s back to business as usual; more hours spent submitting when you really should be focussing on the day job, or helping your children with their homework, taking the dog outside for his ablutions, spending time with the person who does actually earn some money for the daily bread, seeing friends...
It’s time to pour another cup of self-belief. I do this with a glance at my list of authors who achieved double figure rejections. It’s a salubrious list. I remember RJ Ellory at the York Writers’ Festival who said that the difference between a published and unpublished author was that the unpublished author gave up. I remember how I feel when I’m writing, that there are parts of my novel which make me smile, characters I love and that the ending always makes me cry. And then I think about how I’d feel if I didn’t write, if I wasn’t trying to get a book published. And the answer is that I’d feel bereft, that nothing makes me feel alive like committing a story to paper or that response from an editor, even when it’s a rejection.
I’m addicted to writing. Resistance is futile. I’m trapped and I love it. I’m writing my second book.
I wrote this in response to a question on Twitter about our strategies for coping with rejection and holding on to a semblance of a positive attitude. Currently I'm just waiting... and waiting... which, personally, I find even harder! So, what about you, what keeps you going? I'd love to know your strategies.
And to my non-writer readers out there with *proper jobs*, thanks for holding our hands on this roller coaster of a ride.