Wednesday, 29 August 2012


I typed the final words last night. It was late and I was tired and slightly weirded-out by finishing. I thought perhaps I'd feel more excited today but...naah, not so much. 
I was excited when I finished my first attempt at a novel last year. But I'm older (40!) and wiser this time around. I know that any feelings of pride and achievement are quickly crushed by rejection letters and all the painfully-painful sadness and shattered hopefulness that comes with them. I went to bed feeling queasy at the thought of the submissions process.
"I don't think I can do it," I said to my husband in a voice of panic. " I don't think I'm up to it...what if I get full-blown depression?"
"Don't do it then," he muttered. "No one's making you send it anywhere. Just put it in a drawer instead."
Hmm...tempting idea, hon. But I know I can't really do that - not after a year's work.
When I started it, I tried to protect myself by refusing to invest in it emotionally. I wouldn't allow myself daydreams of publishing deals, lunches with an agent, bidding wars, film rights and possible cover designs. No, this time I was determined to write with a cynical and jaded - slightly world-weary - aloofness. I would submit only by email. I WOULD NOT CARE.
After a month or two, I tested myself - ran a couple of checks on my aloofness and lack of caring. And everything still seemed to be in place, so I allowed myself to write on...
But that was a long time ago now and somehow the caring has sneaked back in. I've written bits that have made me laugh and bits that made me sad and bits that I thought were quite clever. Damn, damn damn! Those rejection letters are going to hurt me again!
I'll spend the next few weeks editing and (hopefully) trimming my wordcount down from 110,588 to something closer to 100,000 - just so that I can care about it a tiny bit more...and ensure the rejection letters sting with a correspondingly increased amount of sharpness. See! There's the jaded cynicism I was telling you about.

This time last year, three of us from our writing group were submitting our attempts at first novels to agents. And being rejected, as first-time novelists will be *sigh*.
And I gave up soonest. I forced myself to send my manuscript out to the obligatory dozen agents, but after the first few rejections my heart wasn't in it - I'd lost faith in my novel almost in an instant.
The agents said I'd written in the wrong genre. I told myself I'd written in the wrong genre. And I believed it for a while...
I don't think it's true anymore though. A novel in any genre will be taken on by an agent if it's good enough. And mine wasn't. I wasn't quite ready to face it then, but I suspect I knew it all the same.
While my two co-writers sought advice from freelance editors, edited, altered their synopsises or covering letters and resubmitted over and over again, I got to work on a second book.
Because they had continuing faith in their work...and I didn't.

So that's my object with the first draft I've just finished. I want to edit it into a book that I can be genuinely proud of...a book I have no qualms about submitting again and again...a book I can defend  truthfully...a book that is honestly the best that I am capable of.
That's not too much to aim for, is it?


  1. Firstly, *hello it's good to meet you.* Secondly, congratulations on finishing your first draft and thirdly, I share your fear! Once you send your little baby out into the world you've laid yourself bare to potential criticism and rejection - yep been there lots. I've just completed a 3rd edit of my latest project and I definitely feel happier about it. I thought the first draft was great it wasn't actually till I started pulling it apart and rewriting whole sections that I actually began to LOVE IT. Keep going you'll get there. I've followed you too so let us know how you're going. Good luck.

  2. Wow, that was a nice surprise - thanks for commenting! It's good to hear from someone else who's already been through the struggle to get published. Lots of luck to you too - I'll be sure to nip over to your blog in the future and find out how you're getting on xx


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