Stalled and Stuttering

The other day I learnt that rejection smarts, no matter how diminished that rejection might seem. And I feel very silly for it. Do you remember the blogging conference I attended in June of this year? No, thought not. My memory is pretty dim too. Anyway, at that particular event, I met an agent, very friendly she was, and she asked for the first four chapters, comprising the first act, of my manuscript though it was still unpolished, unfinished first draft.

And so I waited and waited, the months ticking by. Early autumn, I emailed a polite reminder. No, of course she hadn’t forgotten me came her upbeat response. She had in fact passed the manuscript over to her colleague; so I sent this other agent a polite, introductory email. She immediately replied, apologising for the delay, and promised to respond after the Frankfurt Book Fair. And she did. She’d really enjoyed reading it, and asked to see everything I had written so far, reassuring me not to worry it was incomplete. I had to blink twice. Really? Seriously? I thought agents only turned their attentions to the end product? One thing seemed certain; she was keen.

Can you imagine how excited I was? Over the moon and beyond. I stretched out my arms, flew out the window, away, into ego-borne fantasies of representation and book deals and chilled glasses of champagne… You know where this is sadly going don’t you?

Last week, she sent me the yang response to my yin fantasy. It was a decline. But a very kind one. She loved the writing, the pace and place of the story, all very positive feedback of which I am very grateful for. Her concern, mirrored by another agent at The Writing Festival I attended in September, was that she would struggle to find a publisher in the current market, but doubly reassured me it had nothing to do with the prose, it was the situation within publishing. Four Gigs is a little niche.

I sighed. Never mind. Pulled my socks up. Thought I’d moved on, until I attempted more words on the novel. I stalled, stuttered, ground to halt. Blocked. The fantasy of representation had understandably fueled my creativity, the fantasy now deflated, had sapped me of something vital. The oompf, the compulsion to lay down one word after the next had disappeared.

I needed to out the awkward feelings I held. An emotional blockage is a concrete hindrance to the progression of words. Well it is for me. But even a couple of downward dogs couldn’t shift it, the blockage now glued to the heart with double-sided sticky tape not even a Blue Peter presenter could tear off. I feared the only way to circumnavigate the problem was to write. About this. About feeling childish, rejected over the tiniest of set backs. The agent’s response was very complimentary. I should have been glowing from affirmation, dancing on sunshine. Sadly not. I had been declined, and that can’t be dressed up in any euphemism, not even a slice of cake (well maybe). And I’m so daft feeling sorry for myself, licking this self-made wound. It could have been much worse; a six worded reply, no feed back at all, the inbox empty, tumbleweed. A mountain had hardly crumbled here.

But today is Sunday. A new week. A dusting off. Time to get on or be damned. This is but one agent, there are so, so many more. I will wait until Four Gigs has been through the editing mill, at an almost completion, or as much as it will ever be, then send out the manuscript again. By then, I hoped to have grown a slightly thicker skin. Elephant hide.

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9 responses

  1. I am with you on the pain of rejections…every time I get a no I feel like giving up on my writing altogether but the compulsion to write is stronger so after a day or two (and some glasses of wine and a few bars of chocolate) I pick up the pen again. I loved the piece of Four Gigs I have heard you read so keep going 🙂 So many more agents – it takes one to take it on and really believe in it! You will get there! xx P.S. I find the the Plank pose is good for growing rejection resistant spine (if you manage the pain of that pose then you will manage everything else!)

    • I have been writing my novel again but not as much as I was writing before – I obviously need a little more time for the ‘no’ to wash through my system. Glasses of wine and bar of chocolate sound like a great idea though. Glad you enjoyed that extract, and cheers for that yoga tip!

  2. If it’s any comfort – I have been rejected nine times before someone said yes. Don’t give up. It only takes one person to be brave enough and say yes to the niche! xx
    (This is Deborah from the Facebook writers group.)

    • Yes, that is of total comfort *smiles*. As they say annoyingly in sales, it’s a numbers game. I will crack on and get this finished, and send it out. Seems to be that the publishing market is quite precarious at the moment, and maybe agents are feeling the pressure to represent very ‘safe’ options, I don’t know. But I will wade through the agent sea when the time comes… *Hello Deborah!* X.

  3. This is no consolation, but I know how you feel… I managed to get a meeting with an agent at the Frankfurt Book Fair and got my hopes up, but it was a “no” too. When there has been a contact “face to face”, rejection is more difficult I would say.
    A new year is about to start… Let’s concentrate on the new possibilities! 😉 xx

    • Well it had been a long road since June…. and the fact she wanted to read it when it was still only in first draft was quite a compliment; I wasn’t expecting her to want to read the rest of the chapters immediately after she’d read the first four. What were you given a ‘no’ on? The idea of your book/ the synopsis? And now to finish the novel… 2014 here we come. X

  4. Rejection is never easy. Work through it and pick up again when you’re ready. Maybe lightening up slightly over December and enjoying Christmas will help you return to it in January feeling fresher and with new resolve. x

  5. Pingback: End of Term Report « Sadie Hanson

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