More ‘No’

rejection-slip

Always have two more targets to apply to. Then, whenever you receive a rejection, send them out. Soon the whole process will snowball and you’ll almost enjoy the sensation of rejection as it’ll be springboard to doing and promoting.

I got my first rejection for Oneiromancer last week and that’s fine. I owed this particular agent first refusal; and, as I waited, I was constrained from really pushing myself. Not literally; I didn’t have an exclusivity clause or anything. But it’s always easier to wait than to act, and it’s not like I had nothing else on my mind.

Now the formal notification has arrived: she doesn’t want me. The note contained nice words (she admires my writing) and I know the business: nothing personal, just a cold hard calculation of what’s best for us both. Of course I’m disappointed but I respect her, her opinions and her reasons.

Sometimes a rejection is gutting, a kick in the knackers, a painful reminder of your own limitations. But sometimes it’s a cutting of a cord, the freedom to walk another road, be it with a different agency or self-publishing – or the chance to write something entirely new.

Rejection isn’t a sign of failure; it’s not a comment on your writing or your potential. It’s an opening of doors. It’s the chance to grow. So don’t be afraid. The hurt is only temporary, and hiding from the world won’t get you anywhere.

Take any lessons you may have learnt, down your gin then sober up and step on. Rejection is never nice, but it’s hardly the end of the world, or of your career. Keep going and you’ll get there in the end – even if the destination isn’t the one you’d originally envisioned.

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The wet haddock of reality

So the WordPress annual report comes in, and I am happy. Slow growth across the social media world – I can live with that. I can sit back and enjoy this wave of adulation, my ego sufficiently bolstered..?

Of course not. Life’s never so straightforward.

2014 has been a bit of an enhumblement, professionally speaking. If 2013 was my ‘year of getting professional’, 2014 has been my ‘year of getting slapped in the face with the wet haddock of reality’.  I’ve been forced to face up to the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, I know nothing. And I’m very glad to have made this realisation. It’s only when you face your incompetences that you can turn them into strengths.

So what have I learned? For a start, I over-use rhetorical questions. A small, silly thing really but it’s a habit that’s surprisingly hard to break. Will I succeed? Can’t say yet. I also over-use sentence fragments, an annoying stylistic tic of mine.

More fundamentally, I need to work on character and pacing. I don’t want to go too much into this because I’ve whined on about it before; really both elements come down to not addressing these things properly before I start to write. I’ve spent the majority of the year working on correcting related issues within my work.

But really I think the thing that’s changed in the last year is my attitude. I began 2014 by racing to complete a revision for an agent – I rushed in order to impress and ended up with a failure. Now I am working slower, steadier, and leaving more time for my deep thoughts to catch and swallow the scudding shoals of inspiration before they can lead me into shallows of superficiality.

If I manage to learn my bitter lessons and prove I’m worthy, maybe 2015 will become the year of getting published. One can always hope. But always, always, work comes before dreams. Only one can lead to the other.

Oh, and I also got married this year. That was good.