This Writing Rollercoaster

If there is one certainty inside the unpredictable world of writing, it’s that there is rejection – masses of it.

It might arrive hidden in the middle of a five paragraph rambling email mentioning how great the hundred of entries were, and how you just missed out. Or it could be there, uncompromising, in the subject header of an email: ‘ SUBMISSION – REJECTED’ (I’ve had both; I prefer the latter!) Either way, your precious words are not wanted, and by default your heart says, neither are you, the writer.

It's nonsense, of course. Once you’ve had an hour, a morning, a day, to let the brain take over from the heart, you start to realise that nine times out of ten, it’s not you, as the saying goes, it’s them. Rejection of your writing isn’t about your writing at all, it’s about what the agent, publisher, judge or editor wants at any one particular moment in time. Look at it this way: there’s a buffet in front of you with a lovely-looking pizza and a great-smelling curry. Which do you choose? If today you fancy the curry, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the pizza; you might well choose that tomorrow.

It's that simple. (Trust me, I’m a doctor!!)

No surprise then, that I’ve had a bumper bundle of rejections this month, and they’ve materialised in all shapes and sizes. Several months ago, I won a manuscript assessment – the reader came back lukewarm at best, but it felt warm and fuzzy compared with the feedback from an agent 1-1 (another prize). That fifteen minutes was taken up with their wishlist, their required formatting – not the way I’d done it – and when I asked for an opinion on the story, advising me to join a writing group if I wanted to talk specifics. I barely noticed the form rejections (‘I didn’t love it quite enough’) or the positives in the, ‘Beautifully written, intriguing premise but not quite commercial enough for my current list’.

I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that these were for different novels.

There were, as there usually are, some glimmers of hope! I was shortlisted in two Twitter pitch competitions – and the buzz around these opportunities (successful or not, and I’m often not) always cheers me up. It’s no secret that I love playing with words to create these 280 character hooks or mini-blurbs; my equivalent of crosswords or Wordle. Maybe I should be plotting a novella-in-Twitter-pitches…

Her new house is pristine, whiter than white, blissfully silent...Then she finds a baby, asleep in a box on the bedroom floor. 'The baby is yours, Kay, don't you remember?' the voice whispers. It's not. Of course it's not. But then again that voice is always right…

For #PickUpAPageturner (National Crime Reading Month)

She's come back, after 2 missing months. She looks like Nell, sounds like her, acts like her. But it’s not Nell. Why can no-one else see it’s not Nell? Her eyes worry me. Wide and blank, with that mottled hue of the sea on the day I drowned her.

For #PitchTo DA (Darley Anderson Literary Agency)

]Anne xx

 

Gill Merton is Entitled
This Writer's Holiday

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Tuesday, 16 August 2022

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