Sunday, 31 March 2013

Thickening the skin

I'm back on that terrifying rollercoaster that is submitting my novel to literary agents. I've had two rejections so far, and each one has been painful. Of course it has. I'm not going to lie about it - when you see an email from one of the agents you've sent your precious words to, there will always be a little thrill that hopes for a full request. After that, I assume it becomes a game of hovering over your phone, hoping and praying that the call will come...but I've not got that far yet.

All advice reminds writers not to take rejection personally, but that doesn't mean it's not disappointing. I know, this person hasn't met me (in most cases), they're not my friend or colleague, they're not judging me as a person. They're not even saying that my novel is terrible, just that it's not right for them. But rejection is rejection, however much you rationalise it, and it hurts.

I hope that as I go on, my skin will toughen up, because after each rejection I get a pang of despair. I feel like I'm rubbish and I should give up. Luckily, I have encouraging friends, and written feedback from professional editors that I can read to claw back some self-esteem. The drive to get published is strong enough to shine through the gloom, so I'll keep going!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The benefit of writing events

Two weeks ago I went to the Writers' Workshop Getting Published event at Regent's College in London, and came back buzzing. I've been so busy since then, both with writing and the rest of life, that I've hardly had time to breathe, let alone blog! Now things have calmed a little, I thought I'd share my thoughts on why it's so important to go to writing events.

  • Meeting other writers. This writing lark can be an incredibly lonely one, and it's great to meet others who are in the same position as yourself. You can discuss ideas, share submission woes and swap editing tips, as well as having someone to prop up the bar with at the end of the night.
  • Advice. I've yet to go to a writing workshop or keynote address that I haven't gained something from, even if it was a lesson in what not to do. This particular event really got me thinking about a number of different aspects of my novel, and the plot is tighter now as a result. Events are especially wonderful if you get one-to-one advice included as part of your ticket.
  • Networking. As long as you go about it the right way, writing events are a great place to meet agents, editors and published writers. Just don't leap out in front of them when they're on their way to give a talk, or pass them notes under the toilet door. Common sense, really.
  • Inspiration. There's something about being in a room full of people who are all full of interesting stories that I find incredibly inspiring. We're all working away in our time, doing our best to get our stories out there, all committed to making them the best they can possibly be.
At the start of this year I made a resolution to spend time with other writers as often as work and finances would allow, and I'm already seeing the benefits. Don't spend all your time locked away in your writing cave - come out every so often, smile and shake hands, have a normal conversation with someone in the publishing business. It'll be great, I promise.