Monday 8 November 2010

It's all just a game of battleship

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 However much I try to be one of those confident, persistent unpublished writers who, time after time, submit their work and shrug off the rejection letters and emails with an, 'oh well,' while they compose the next agent's cover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.

Because however much I try, I cannot stop writing. It's like a disease, or a drug. It makes me feel at peace, it drives me mad, it irritates the hell out of me and it makes me a better person. I've written here before about how I feel writing a novel is like having a tumultuous love affair, and that about sums it up. My home may be a mess, my financial affairs unkempt (for an accountant), my family neglected, but I'll always finish writing my latest novel. Unless, of course, I fall out of love with it, in which case it just wasn't meant to be. (I've lost count of the partly completed manuscripts littering My documents -folder).

Watching the lovely and very talented singer, and until last night an X Faxtor contestant, Treyc Cohen, on telly this morning, I was amazed at her graciousness and positive attitude. After only hours after being so remarkably - and unfairly - rejected by the X Factor judges, there she sat on the sofa and said she knew she'd be a success and would not give up her singing career. Goodness, I admire this girl. If she can do it, so can I.

So here I am today, going back into the fray (don't tell me if I've said this before): I'm going to make regular submissions. Today, or perhaps tomorrow; definitely by the end of this week. 

Wish me luck!


Savannah J. Foley said...

Thanks for thinking so highly of my vlog that you linked to it! I'm glad it made your day better, and wish you the best of luck in your path to publication!!!

vegemitevix said...

You've crystallised exactly how I feel Helena. Isn't it frustrating that you know all about what makes a book sell, yet can't seem to push your own across the line! I even feel a bit down in the mouth when my blog goes unloved. Here's hoping that things work out for you too my fellow expat pal! Vix x

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Helena, oh, don't give up, your writing's great!

I think Treyc's parents could have done with going on spelling course, don't you? What's that all about?

I'm thinking of doing a post on 50 things to do. I've just read my copy and I've done most of them! Thank you for your lovely comments at mine xx

Metropolitan Mum said...

I always wondered how unpublished authors didn't lose faith and kept on writing, one book after the other. Now that I started writing myself, I know that I can't give up, even though I might not find an agent/publisher for my manuscript.
All the best and lots of lots of luck!

Wildernesschic said...

Helena I am enjoying the new community at Maybe another platform for you ?? I have been on a week and had some wonderful feedback from some great writers and artist, I have even had two poems featured which is quite wonderful as it is a huge community and that is part of the main aim :)
Keep going you should write for you first, and if people enjoy its a bonus.
I love your writing. xx
Looking forward to seeing you next Monday xx

Metropolitan Mum said...

PS: I can't believe you are not yet published!!

What Jayne Reads said...

Don't give up. Because if you did and looked back in years to come, it'd be disappointing to think you just ended it. Those that persevere will be rewarded. I truly believe that. Write what you enjoy to read and someone else will more than likely love it and want to publish it.

As for TreyC I really hope she does well too. It wasn't her night to leave at all.

Unknown said...

You are my rock, people. (No I haven't had a drink, it's 9 am on a Tuesday)

Savannah, your post was inspirational, truly.

Vegemitevix, we'll laugh and cry in cyberspace together?

Metropolitan Mum, You're too kind, my heart is warmed.

Wilderness, as always you're so positive. I can't wait for our lunch tweetup.

Jayne, I think you're right about writing for yourself. That's why it's so difficult because I'm my harshest critic. I think we all are, which is the way it should be.

Helena xx

Unknown said...

Christina, you always make me laugh - I agree re Trayc's parents...!!!! xx

MommyHeadache said...

I know what you mean! Writing is like that for me too ...a drug or a really dysfunctional love affair that you can't let go. As long as you have the passion and you obviously do I think you will get there in the end. Good luck!