For the last few weeks some of you have been following my journey as a writer since I got myself a literary agent. And its been an exciting journey, one from which I am learning every day. What I realise now is writers need a hefty dollop of self-belief. Something that does not come easy for me.
I began last week with feelings of self-doubt and disappointment, but I am beginning this week with enthusiasm and a small amount of self-belief.
My agent Wendy has pitched my book to I think about 10 publishers over the last few weeks. Some of them are the biggest publishing houses in the world. It was a humbling experience even to think that my work was being read by people in these houses.
When Wendy informed me that I had been rejected by one last week. Of course, I had a dream that several publishers would be fighting over me. On my confident days I believe I am an absolute genius. So, to be rejected was well a disappointment.
Trawling through the number of rejections for some very successful writers is always a great way to remind yourself not to give up. People constantly mention J K Rowling to me. That’s is such a great example. But there are so many more that.
Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected over 40 times. That went on to become the second most popular book in America after the bible.
I use that one as example because that actually says more about the determination of the writer then it does about the publishers who rejected her. One rejection is just a tiny drop in the ocean of disappointments. Margaret must have been one hell of a determined woman to keep going.
One publisher wrote about – The Diary of Anne Frank, “The girl doesn’t it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity level”.” What a great example of someone in the wrong job.
A few years ago, I went to a Writers and Artists event to learn about self-publishing. There was a man in his 60’s who had in his hand what looked like a manuscript for his book. But I was stunned when he said, “No these are all my rejections of my book. Over 200 of them”
200 rejections! I tried to imagine at what point I would have said well no obviously I am never going to get this thing published, 40, 50,60? The guy seemed to have prided himself on so many rejection slips.
I am still undecided if it was true self belief or incredible determination. Or maybe both.
This was in the days when I was writing Jewish Days Arab Nights. I am embarrassed to say after less than 10 rejections I self-published it. I thought life was too short (it is) to be waiting on someone to recognise my talent.
This weekend I spoke with my Agent Wendy on the phone and we had an encouraging talk. She still thinks I have something. With that in mind I spent another weekend in lockdown writing and was thrilled to post on Facebook on Sunday that I had finished the first draft. I cannot describe the sense of achievement and the feelings of satisfaction this has given me.
There are various factors which have contributed to this and one of them is the enforced lockdown for me at weekends. Usually I would be working as a football steward at Wembley. I job that I have learned to actually enjoy. In small doses, that is. Not as much as I enjoy writing or reading.
So, my weekends have been filled with time to write. And most of the time I have enjoyed writing this book. The idea for the book came from the fact I was being gossiped about in the village where I live. Each step of my road to success is the proverbial finger to those people.
And another huge contribution is having a literary agent. Her encouragement and belief in me has been inspirational. I had often read articles about whether an agent was necessary for a writer to become published. Well for me the answer is undoubtedly yes.
Not only in her encouragement but also in her help to work through aspects of the book and the fact she has pitched my work to publishers I just would never have considered because they are so big. But there I am being read by the big guys.
She also reminded that my body count was a bit confusing. I think my serial killer lost count somewhere along the line. Too many bodies, not enough bodies. A simple mistake but one that Wendy spotted quickly.
My confidence has come back in spades (often used to dig the holes to hide the bodies on the hill.) I now just think enjoy this moment, enjoy the opportunities, enjoy the creative process, enjoy, enjoy it all.
And finally encourage any fellow writers. If you don’t have self-belief why would anyone else believe in you. You are the one holding the pages, you are the one that is writing the words, and if you don’t believe you can do that then how ill any one be able to read the end result called a book?
Perhaps not go as far as the guy with over 200 rejections. Although I am renowned for being stubborn. I prefer to call it determined.
I am still on the road to success. The next stage is now to start the re-writes, explanations, embellishments improvements. Hopefully by the end of this 2nd draft my agent may have good news for me.
I am however going to use this first rejection as bench mark for any future rejections one thing they did say was, “She didn’t like my style.” I like my style and am sure my fans do as well.
Actually, to be honest I didn’t think I had style so that is a bonus to find out I have style. I got style baby oh yes I got style, so there.
So, it’s business as usual for this writer. Happy writing folks! Oh, and did I tell you I am genius?