Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Sunday, 31 July 2011

When is a Rejection Good News?

“Never!” I hear you say – and of course it’s always better to be accepted. But some rejections are better than others: like the one I received recently, which oddly enough made me feel a bit closer to publication, and restored some faith in the industry. It’s also given me an opportunity to reflect on something I think is worth considering: how we deal with rejection, and how we prepare ourselves for it.
      It’s all too easy to mistake an airing of this topic for a plea for sympathy, but bear with me: I’ve already said I’m OK about this. And, let’s face it, it is the norm, at every level of a writer’s career: even successfully published authors shake at the knees when new contracts are under discussion – so I’ve been told.
      For what it’s worth, here are my golden rules for lessening the blow.
      1.  Don’t rush into submitting as soon as your first MS is complete.
      It’s worth saying, although I don’t expect anyone to take any notice. You’ve finished a book! That is so overwhelmingly amazing (it is – well done), you have to share it with the world: and do so quickly, before anyone else can steal your idea, not to mention so you can get your hands on the Ferrari/apartment in Venice/football club [select luxury item of your choice] you deserve, as soon as possible.
      If you don’t pause to think first, you’ll waste your only opportunity to pitch this book to the agent/publisher you most want a deal with (and you will pitch to them first), with your book still in a raw state. However many times you’ve redrafted, however much feedback you’ve had, with the fresh eyes of laying it on one side for a month or two you will want to make changes. More importantly, delaying will give you a chance to work on Rule #2.
      2.  Never start sending out an MS until you’re well into writing your next book
      ... and no, it shouldn’t be a sequel to the first. I know it will speed things up when it comes to the film rights if you already have the second story in the series written, but you need to get your head somewhere else if the rejections are not going to really hurt.
      So, back to my own piece of “good news.” I’d given up hope of hearing from the publisher who initially seemed so enthusiastic about my book, but it turns out that it had been seriously considered by him and his editorial team. Far from it being where I thought it was – lying untouched in his in tray – for four months, it had been passed from one person to another, each of whom thought it was worth a second look. I think that’s relatively speedy, especially since their priority during that time must have been their existing authors. And I feel I’m getting a bit closer, because they had nice things to say about my work and they’re keen for me to submit more.
      A direct route to the editor’s desk: now that is something to celebrate. And thanks to Rule #2, I might just have something ready to send.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

I Speak the Truth

Just had my first rehearsal as the Soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra. What fun! I think my note for this part will be Darth Maul.

Not the ninja/light sabre stuff, obviously - I'm an Ancient Egyptian - but visually. Apparently I'll be wearing a cloak with a big hood and squiggly symbols. I get to glide around (I haven't worked that bit out yet) and make ominous predictions which all come true.

Come to think of it, do you know of a script or novel in which a prediction is made, and it doesn't come true? It's such an obvious device, it might be tempting to experiment with incorporating one which just fizzled out and came to nothing - or would that just be too disappointing?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Profiled Away

Don't make me choose.

I'm a writer. What I do best is the dazed look which comes over my face shortly before one of two things happens: someone says "You're thinking about that book again, aren't you?" or I walk into a wall.

I don't do choosing, much less about important things like books. If I'm asked which is my favourite, I'm paralysed with indecisiveness. Does it mean just that? As in, my best ever, the one I would save from the final bonfire? Or the one I want to read today, or the one I would recommend to you? Or, as a children's writer, should my answer be my favourite children's book? That would be four different books, if I could make up my mind at all. And it would leave out so many ...

Any answer is bound to be evasive, and different to the one I would give tomorrow. So instead, my profile will say what I'm reading at the moment. I might post a review when I'm finished.

Music, now, that's different ...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

First (Past the) Post

So pleased with my minimalist new blog, I hardly want to spoil it by scrawling on it - I shall carry on playing with the design and post properly tomorrow.

Or of course this could just be desperate writer's procrastination ...