I feel like a true author.
I have my first proper, formal rejection in my hand. My first properly stamped, self-addressed envelope-returned submission to an agent. Boomerang, straight back at me.
The pages look barely turned (certainly not dog-eared in any way and I'd be forgiven for mistaking that they had actually read through all of it, even though it was way less than what they allowed). It's a standard slip that has been hastily stuffed in with it. They're really not confident they could properly represent me at any publishers. Another agent may disagree. So I guess what they're saying is, "Good luck finding anyone to print that load of codswallop."
I understand everyone gets rejected. We all know the tale of J. K. Rowling and her famous rejection after rejection. I get that I could be doing this for years yet. And if I want to see my hard slog, sweat and tears (all quite literally) come into proper bound print, then I'd better get used to it. I know all this.
It's just blindingly frustrating to get close a couple of times and then... nothing comes of it. I feel further than I ever was. Even further, actually! Because at least, before, I had a couple of leads. Now those have fizzled into nothing.
And yet, still, I have some sort of following of readers who know a little of me (or a lot), a little of my story (or a lot) and are familiar with my writing. They all - you all - seem to want to read it. Everyone I speak to about my book is desperate for it to be "out" so they can "get their hands on it and read it and tell everyone they know to read it too."
I know it's pretty kick-ass. One reader even went so far - unprompted (yeah! I didn't even bribe her!) - as to tell me:
I enjoy all sorts of texts be they narrative or non-fiction. But it is with true life narratives that I am very good at detecting a "wanker" tone, if you know what I mean. Zealousy that borders on self-obsession and self-indulgence. I can honestly say I do NOT detect that tone in your extract :) An example of the tone I am talking about is in the book "Eat, Pray, Love"...
I love that feedback! I want that sort of feedback. Mind you, it hasn't all been rosy with my focus group readers. Some have said outright that they "don't do sad endings."
I'm not sure if you'd call mine sad or happy. I'd like to think it's happy! But I wouldn't want to exhaust a reader and make them feel like they've run an emotional marathon. So I have paced it quite well, I think, for that very reason.
I mean, yes, it has faults - what draft manuscript hasn't? But this thing is packed with realism, a true window into someone's private life on the journey to conceiving (and losing). The lessons I have learned on this journey are too universal for me not to share them with others. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's not a witty cynical look at death - those books are out there, they are in the market and they make a refreshing change and they have their own place on the shelf.
My book is not a piss-take. Sometimes, with the influx recently of these sorts of books (the ones that don't take themselves very seriously), I wonder if that's why I'll never get anywhere. I haven't turned Ella's death into a bit of a jolly laugh through the steps of grief. But then, that's just me being cynical. My book is not trying to be those books. But I know it's up against them, competing with agents who are reading these other submissions and, compared to them, I bet mine feels like an intense drag.
Real does that sometimes.
My book is a true "What I did to turn the massive juggernaut of death and self-woe around", because it's what everyone (who knew me Back Then) wanted to know: How the hell did I do it? How am I not only still standing, but actually thriving and supporting others, to boot?
It took me for-ev-er to stop hiding my light under the so-called bushel (and why is it so-called, by the way??). Now that I have gotten over that and spoken up and said, "Yeah, I guess I do have a story here and a useful, readable one at that", I have to line myself up to get my head lopped not once, or twice, but possibly a dozen or more times.
I don't know if I have enough in me to be bothered, frankly.
And then... I think of her. And I know I will do it all, over and again. And again. I must. For her.
But..... I can't help wondering if everyone isn't collectively just pissing in my pocket. I mean, really. There are soooooo many books flooding the marketplace. Everyone knows how hard it is to get a book published, every writer has read countless stories of people who "think they're writers". Am I one of them?
I am getting confused. I am flagging in my own faith. And I know that is one of the biggest no-no's in this game. If I falter in my self-belief, I'll not have a hope in flaming hell of finding an agent. Or a publisher. I couldn't be arsed looking into self-publishing just yet. I just have to suck it up and keep sending it out.
I'm just.... ahhh... flat about this cold-faced rejection. Let's face it, this kinda isn't what I needed to get my blogging/writing mojo back, now, is it??! Couldn't it have waited at least one business day after I returned?
So here I go again. Preparing some sample chapters to send out again. Wish me luck. Again?