What do you do?

What do you do, when you write and write and redraft, and edit, and do it all again and again and again, then send the resulting stories out into the world, and no one wants them? What do you do?

I think I’ve got used to rejection. It still stings*. Sometimes I even cry – those emails always seem to arrive when I’m depleted. And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes toy with the idea of just giving up. BUT I HAVEN’T. And I won’t. I keep looking for somewhere else to send those stories, my stories. It’s an act of faith in my work, in my worth as a writer. Even if I don’t fit my stories don’t fit anywhere.


*Actually, it hurts like hell.


N.B. This is a rhetorical question, by the way.


Taking Stock, Part II

2010 is almost done with. 2011 almost ready to begin. And what have I done with the time that has been given to me? I’ve been angry, a lot. I’ve been ridden by the black hag-bitch Depression. I’ve had rotten miserable damned inconvenient back pain. I drove a petrol car for the first – and so far only – time – my husband was terribly brave – it was our first ever brand new car! (Yes, it’s still in one piece.) I had a wonderful time at a friend’s party, drinking Cosmopolitans, and owned up to the vodka hangover the next day. (Note to self, vodka hangovers are vile horrible things, even though Cosmos are delicious.)

What else? I’ve written a lot, I’ve been rejected – and not just by editors – a lot, and I’m gearing up to go through most of all that again. I’ve watched my daughter begin to blossom from a little girl to a more sophisticated, complicated little girl, and am much amused by her frequent exasperation with me ; ‘mu-um’ is becoming a normal noise in this house. We have a lovely time together, mostly being silly, giggling a lot. I love giggling with my daughter – there will definitely be a lot more of that in 2011.

I’ve enjoyed glorious weather in Devon, and in Bulgaria. I’ve listened to music and let it take me to new places in my head. I’ve started this blog; that was pretty momentous, wondering if anyone would ever read it, and you are, and I thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not just shouting into the void. Again, I thank you.

The snow happened – I’ve had my first ever white christmas – so what if snow was not actually falling from the sky in this neck of the Cotswolds? It was still beautiful, and as long as I wear my red wellies, I don’t fall over. Perhaps they are imbued with some sort of super-power…? (Sadly the thaw has set in, and all is now sadly dank and muddy where once it was crisply gleaming white.)

I made sloe gin for the first time, and I’m drinking some now – it is truly delicious and  without the vicious nastiness of a hangover next morning. I have learned that not all friendships are equal, that not all friends are worth the wait when they say one thing and do another, make promises and consistently fail to keep them. I’m better off without them. That lesson has cost me a lot in terms of hours and days of despair; time that I’ll never get back, and can bill no one for. That makes me angry, but que sera, progress is progress, and perhaps one day I’ll achieve some sort of equanimity.

So what’s coming in 2011? Lychees. Every year begins with lychees. Otherwise the only thing I can say with any certainty is that I’ll be turning 40.

Apart from that? Who knows? Bring it on.

A decision born of disappointment

I can no longer be bothered to count the number of rejections I’ve had for short story submissions. It is perfectly natural to feel demoralised, and disheartened, and I freely admit to both of these conditions. It is demoralising to receive a form rejection attachment from the editor, suggesting that I need to read more, and avoid clichés such as ‘he was a total psychopath’. (I have a first class honours in English Literature for heaven’s sake; I’ve been reading widely and avidly since I was two years old – how many two year-olds have YOU known with ‘superfluous’, and ‘soporific’ in their vocabulary? – not that they would know this. The premise of the story in question takes a what if scenario; what if Nick Bottom fathered a child on Titania – and I promise you, there’s not a psychopath in sight.) I can’t help feeling that such sweeping generalisations in rejection do writers no favours. I know editors are an overworked underpaid bunch, with more stories to read than there are hours in a day, BUT… I also know that it is – up to a point –  a numbers game, finding someone out there who thinks my writing might be worth the gamble of publishing. I know that I have a long way to go, working at writing, refining it. There are any number of articles published in print and online that tell me this; the admirable @Bubblecow tweets links to such things everyday.  Some of the advice is conflicting – it is a minefield, trying to find what to do, and what not to do, whilst trying to keep confidence in my writing. I have been told I’m good at it, BUT… I’m paying my dues, I know. I know also that there are no guarantees in what I’m attempting to achieve. BUT… there’s only so much banging my head against the wall I can take. I’m not Bart Simpson, I’m not going to keep reaching for the cake and suffer electrocution.

So. I keep writing, because how else will I learn? Writing is like living, a heuristic process. But no more short stories, since they don’t seem to be my thing. Or at least, no more short stories with a view to sending them out alone into the world. No. I’ll finish the vengeance kick story I’m writing, and then it’s back to my novel. I don’t have time to be demoralised – there’s too much to be done. And I am very determined.

(It was reading Beatrix Potter that gave me this linguistic head-start, in case you were wondering.)