The Diary of an Unpublished Author #8

Dear Diary,

This one is all about rejections. Dum, dum, dum.

I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t received any rejections from literary agents in the quest for a book publishing deal…

Don’t worry, people will tell you. [Insert famous author name here] received hundreds of rejections before they finally got published. That’s all well and good, and thanks for the morale boost, but even the most well-meaning of consolations can feel a little sour when you are not yet a published author, and therefore cannot look back upon your unpublished days with fond nostalgia.

Even my latest literary rejection was filled with a familiar sentiment:

“Malorie Blackman wrote 9 books and was submitting for 2.5 years (and got 82 rejections) before her first book deal, and then she became Children’s Laureate – so do persevere!”

I know this is intending to be encouraging – and in many ways it does slightly soften the blow – but there’s something nonetheless fundamentally disheartening about receiving a literary rejection.

One of my favourite quotes about writing is by Maya Angelou and it goes as follows:

maya-angelou

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

But what if there is a greater agony to bear? What if it’s much much worse to write your untold story, pouring your heart out onto the page, repeatedly combing through the words meticulously several times to form some kind of comprehensible and digestable story, being brave enough to send it out to strangers in the hope that they might understand and like it, only to have it rejected, several times?

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, maybe it’s because I’m a writer.

The point is that it’s hard getting rejected, especially when I think my book is now at a level where it’s a substantial and composite whole, with characters and themes and important things to say.

I’ve worked on it for so long, and gone through so many drafts, each time getting slightly closer to what I think is publishable-worthy, and now I think it’s the best it’s ever been, and I love reading and re-reading it and I still enjoy it each time. Sure, I’m biased, but there’s got to be something to say about writing something you genuinely enjoy reading.

So, with an ever-decreasing list of agents to apply for, and an ever-increasing sense of despondency, I’ve started to contemplate the alternatives to get my writing out there, and all I can say to that is watch this space…

If the publishers don’t want to publish your words, sometimes you’ve got to do it yourself.

Yours as ever,

Beth

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