December 17th is only 5 weeks away.
Why is that important? Because at the time of writing, in 5 weeks, 4 hours 30 minutes and 34…no, 32 seconds, I’ll be sitting down at the cinema with a group of friends to watch Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens. To say that I’m ‘a bit excited’, is like saying Mo Farah was a ‘bit excited’ when he won Olympic Gold. I’m not saying that me watching Star Wars could in any way be equated to how Mo Farah felt when he crossed the finish line…actually screw that. It’s totally the same.
When I’m not running down the street making lightsaber noises, I’ve been busy working on lots of projects and articles. Two I’m particularly proud of were for the Huffington Post and can be found on the links below. One is about the issue of gender bias in fiction and the other is about Mental Health and my own experiences.
Others I’ve written included a piece for Sci Fi London that I wrote in conjunction with Universal Fancy Dress.
Dealing with Rejection
Of course being in my line of work, it isn’t always sun and roses. Writing is hard work. It takes time and practice to get things right (ha ha!). This is something I had confirmed at a recent workshop I attended. The London Writers Café hosted an event at the beginning of October that involved having the first 500 words of your manuscript being read and critiqued by a professional literary agent. It is rare that you can receive feedback from an agent in this setting so I jumped at the chance to be involved. To prevent bruised egos in a public environment, all entries were anonymous. I sat at the back with baited breath as to what the lady from DKW would say. Her comments on my own work were better than I expected to be honest.
“This opening intrigues me right from the moment I start reading. It makes me want to know what is going to happen next.”
Translation: “It’s not total s**t.”
Of course positive feedback never stands without the criticism.
“I would have liked to have known a bit more about the characters. Who are they? What are their names? I’d like a bit more description about the setting as well.”
Translation: “Bring it back once you’ve edited it. And maybe submit to other agents who like Sci Fi as well.”
This was good feedback overall and enough to give me the confidence that I haven’t written a total dud. Considering the opening I submitted is just the first draft, there is much to be positive about. There are corrections I can make, elements I can tweak, characters I can reshape. Nevertheless, a rejection is still a rejection and I received a group email just a few days ago to let me know that they didn’t want to see more of my work at this time.
This is something I have had to learn time and again about writing. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Not everyone is going to want to hear what you have to say. The trick is to write things that are true to you, and know deep down that if you like it, the chances are someone else is going to like it too. Editing, re-writing and polishing are pretty useful as well!
Instead of feeling depressed and bummed out about 1 rejection, I’ve just carried on working on my other projects. Because I’m awesome (or slightly unhinged) I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). All participants have from the 1st November to the 30th November to write at least 50,000 words of a novel. It’s day 12 and I’ve managed to churn out 15,000 words of a new contemporary novel that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Nanowrimo is good for a writer for a number of reasons:
- It makes you work
- It gets your ideas out of your head and onto the page
- Several best-selling authors use Nanowrimo for their 1st drafts
- It stops procrastination dead
- It stops you moaning that you can’t write
- It makes you more organised with your day
- It’s fun (I know that sounds weird, but it is…most of the time)
I’ll be writing a separate Nanowrimo series of mini-posts for the rest of the month to share my thoughts and frustrations. I hope this will give you an insight into my own writing process and just how mad (or normal!) it may seem to an outsider looking in.
Have a great month!
5 weeks, 3 hours, 55 minute and 22 seconds before the force is with us…