Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Conf 61 Yes, it's a No

No of e-mails from agent: 2
Amazon bingo: -2

My gloom of the last few weeks has now lifted.

The stalemate has passed and the verdicts are all in.




New rewrite? No thanks.

Boo hoo.

But not too boo hoo because I knew it. I knew the work I'd sent to the agent wasn't good enough. That's why I was so glum. That's why I'm never ever going to send anything out before I'm done with every word, like a short story or a poem. The time pressures I'd put on myself were destructive.

It's a shame but not the end of the world because I am now getting down and making it work. It's not all awful, but I had come to realise there were major flaws. The agent didn't go into those, it was a very fair rejection, and not of me but of the work. He apologised for the delay in replying but he'd been mulling and had sent it off to some readers for other opinions. The readers confirmed his worries that the writing wasn't hitting all the right notes, the narrative wasn't authentic enough and the story wasn't page-turning enough. He said he really wanted to love it but didn't think he could place it with a publisher. He's left the door open for other ideas & says he's certainly not fobbing me off but understands if I want to try it on other agents.

After lots of supportive notes and calls from the 5 in my writing group I had a good perspective on it all. It was a Friday, daughter had 2 friends staying and the house was full of laughter. The Amazon Gods were also smiling with a -2 housey housey: novel 1 at 8,324 and novel 2 at 8,326, so someone's still buying them somewhere. Even the non-fiction was in the ten thousands.

Yesterday I replied:

I was sorry to hear this, but not surprised. I didn't give myself enough mulling time before sending it off to you and I now feel there are serious flaws. Not least the main character who is bland and uninteresting. I think I've made the mistake of writing her like a 30something instead of a late40something. The Jerry Hall type image I had for her is dull and unrelatable-too, readers will identify with the horrors of ageing, not someone who seems to have defied it; the sex is tacky and the story as it stands a bit stupid. The phone call & the US woman is contrived.

The fact is, I'm an organic writer [how L frm my writing group described me]. Though I have applied myself as best I can to writing a full synopsis for this before the book is written, I'm not a plotter. The stories develop from character and my characters aren't there yet.

Part of my problem has been the panic that finding myself out of contract with an agent and a publisher has given me. I've been racing on this, hoping to get back on the ladder as soon as I can so that I could feel that bit safer about my future as a writer. This was wrong. I need to slow down.

The freelance writing work has dried up lately & is so badly paid that I'll be going back to full-time work in September when my daughter starts secondary school. I've had this date in my head as the time I had to make it as a writer or give up. But this was the wrong attitude. Instead, having a steady income will take the horrible panic away and allow me to write the best book I can. However long it takes....


I've been working hard these past couple of days on the changes. I suddenly realised today it's not the 20,000 words I have to deal with but just the first 3 chapters, as that's all anyone new will want to see. One of my jobs is to pull out my favourite lines from the 20,000 and fitting them in the first 3 chapters.

When I've finished, mulled, finished as much as I can finish, I'll send them to the agent who was interested in my other novel and direct to the big publishing house editor I pitched to at the book launch (Conf. 30 ) and that's it. I wouldn't normally do that but because of the connection that's there and the knowledge she loved my first book; also because she's very senior and might suddenly move or retire I'd be crazy not to try her now. After that I'll go quietly away and finish it, get a job and get a life.

The Quicksands reviews are in. The Sunday Times had our Sybille reflecting on her rejections and how they made her the writer she is.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.


genevieve said...

Oh bugger. If it helps at all, Tim Winton, one of our big shots down here, sat agonising all night over his last big one, Dirt Music, before his wife got up in the morning, looked at him and said, "It's not ready, is it?"
(or words to that effect.)And he sat down and rewrote the whole shebang.
Good to hear the other books are doing well.

genevieve said...

P.S. Oh, and thanks for fixing me up (so to speak), and for the link to your friend Jacqui's blog - very interesting. You will both end up on my UK blogroll when it's a bit fatter - any other litbloggers and writers I should be visiting?