Almost exactly a year ago I wrote this post about where I was at then and what I hoped might happen in 2016.
I’ve discovered over and over again that “every step on a writing journey takes a LOT longer than you think”. I’ve confronted and been thwarted by numerous Threshold Guardians. I’ve definitely gone into the Inmost Cave and am having a bit of an Ordeal if I’m honest.
When “The Space Between” got its editorial read-through in March it turned out that there was still work to do as the external conflict plot structure needed strengthening. I did that, however I couldn’t then afford another read-through in order to get Golden Egg’s final “Seal of Approval” and help with submitting to agents. It was still submitted to Chicken House for their First Look Deal, but they didn’t want to publish it.
I submitted to 6 agents myself over the summer: had two quick rejections from agents I knew were long shots; two agents I haven’t heard back from yet (which after a certain amount of time amounts to a rejection, as some agencies don’t reply if they’re not interested); one agent read the full manuscript and sent the loveliest most encouraging rejection ever, although unfortunately it arrived on my birthday; and the full manuscript is still with one (but it’s been awhile…).
I’ve found this period to be one of the most demoralising and depressing of my life. While you’re writing, you’re enjoying yourself and are full of hope that everyone else who reads your story will love it as much as you do. You hope that you’ll find an agent and a publisher who will also declare undying love for it and fight to represent/publish you.
But when you actually submit, your hopes are suddenly either going to be fabulously proved or monumentally crushed. Your baby, who you’ve loved and nurtured and poured hours upon hours of your life into, is thrust out into a harsh world to live or die.
I’ve spent long patches this year not writing, but despite how difficult it’s been I keep trudging on. In the last month I’ve done another full edit of “The Space Between” based on an amazing book I read about theme and the character arc! I am seriously proud of the improvements I’ve made to it this year.
Other positives include being Highly Commended in the Sheffield Short Story Competition, becoming more realistic about writing, restarting this blog and having fun with things like my current Twitter micro-fiction based on the SCBWI Illustrators’ Advent pictures. One of the best things has definitely been sharing the journey with a fantastic supportive community of writers in the form of SCBWI NW!
December and January will be spent preparing for and sending out another round of submissions for “The Space Between” to both UK and US agents. I believe my story would do much better in the US than the UK and a couple of US agents have already invited me to query them. I’ll continue working on my new teen story (which I also LOVE) and perhaps even make a start on one of the middle grade stories mulling around in my head. I’ll keep up this blog and I might write a few more short stories, but I definitely won’t be entering any long novel competitions ever again. I went for two this year and didn’t longlist for either. In the most recent one 26 out of 715 entries were longlisted. That’s 689 writers who are left feeling like they’re not good enough. I’m done with putting myself through that.
I’m also finally trying properly to get part-time employment. More on that and the idea of giving up work to pursue your dreams in another post. I won’t be giving up writing though, so stick around to see what twists and turns and ups and downs I face in 2017!