Today I’m feeling pretty low. I’ve failed. I’ve let people down. To quote Seymour Skinner: ‘I’ve been taken down a peg – a whole peg!’
I’ve read in many an interview that writers have to do rewrites for agents and editors before being accepted, but I never really understood the emotional impact of such a request. In fact, I didn’t even realise that was where I was until yesterday. It was then I received an email from an industry professional who said she was disappointed in my latest draft of Night Shift.
This is hard to take. An author never wants to release a disappointment on the world. There may be reasons why there output is sub-optimal: time pressure is probably the main reason, or misguided enthusiasm; but sometimes these things are only apparent in the cold light of critical reviews. This is obviously the case here. I thought I’d done as I was asked, thought I’d met my targets. It’s a blow to the ego. It’s also embarrassing.
There is obviously good news contained here. A request for a reworking is obviously a step up from a rejection. Something can only be disappointing if you hoped it might be better, and that implies a belief in my work and in me. I can do this better, that’s what I’m being told. And there must be something fundamentally good in my writing or I’d never have got this far.
I’ve had a lot of time invested in me by this person, and that’s a huge compliment in this industry. I’ve said before how much I’ve come to appreciate how hard editors and agents work. If someone’s giving me hours of their time it’s because they want my work to succeed.
But I feel crushed. Today, at least. I can’t pick up the manuscript right now, need time to really take this in and turn it round into determination. Hey, I’m still learning. I’ve got to use this to my advantage. I’ve displayed a lot of naivety, and that’s not so surprising. I’ve got to make sure everything I ever write from now on is up at a higher level.
So yes – I’m feeling pain now, and embarrassment, and I’m feeling low. But that pain will pass and in its place will come an even better novel.