Coping with rejection and working hard

I haven’t posted about writing in a while. Yes, I’m publishing weekly interviews with authors and sharing out lots of interesting scribbler content on my social media pages but it’s been a few months since I wrote about the stage I am at and where my head space is.

I’m a bit wary of sharing, because previously when I stuck a pin in the calendar everything went south from there. My motivation vanished, my hard work slid off the desk and melted into a big glob of writer’s block. I find I can get a lot done just by not talking about it and that’s probably the way it should be. So if I write this and everything falls off the table, well then, that’s it, until the book is published. No. More. Updates.

If I’m honest, things have been going really well.  I’m being rejected left right and centre, but hey, at least I have material being rejected. Before, I didn’t even have material.

I’ve previously posted about finishing my novella and how chuffed I was about achieving that. I went and booked the script in for a critique in January, but had a good rethink over Christmas and came to realise that the novella, was a stepping stone to the novel that I started last year. I want to write a novel, I want to write a proper book. The novella showed me that I can sit down and write. But it’s not of publishable standard and it’s not something I would ever want to become known for. It’s like putting out your fifth class essays and saying hey, I wrote these, read them, I’m an author. Yes, you wrote them, but they’re still shite.

I love Christmas for the bit of thinking room it gives. We had a nice Christmas, the first in years where we weren’t getting married or having babies (slight time sucks) and I blogged loads and thought about my stories. It came to me in early January that all was not lost with the novel I had been researching last year and I sat down to write and I haven’t really stopped.

I had a draft of two novels and I attempted to pull them together. After 10,000 words I realised that it wasn’t going to work, so I concentrated on the main novel itself. Currently I’m at 30,000 words and I hope and expect to complete the 100,000 words necessary by the end of February.

I am very focused. I am probably the most focused I have been in my whole life. A few things have come together. The Scrivener software I purchased last year is a great tool in organising my writing. The desk I installed and the space that it provides has been the possibly the biggest breakthrough in setting up a writing routine. When I come here, I switch into writing mode – even when I don’t feel like it, I am able to switch on and force myself to get words on the page. I’ve found scented candles help.

I have word targets and an end goal. I can feel that it is all going to happen.

The How I Write series, while time consuming and a challenge to set up every week, is part of my networking within the publishing world and I am learning so much from each writer every week. One of my upcoming writers wrote a blog post some years back, before she had made it, as a very successful author. She describes meeting and socialising with other published writers. She realised that they were in fact ‘real people’ and like a light switch in her head, she realised, that she too, could become an author.

I feel the same. I feel that if I write well enough, work hard enough and don’t give up, I will get there too.

I attended the extremely interesting ‘Getting Published’ course by Vanessa O’Loughlin at the Big Smoke Writing Factory last weekend. I looked forward to it, like a child might at Christmas. And it was truly inspiring to hear success story, after success. If you looked at the numbers and realised the stakes, you would probably never even sit down to type at the page. But, it was easy to forget about all that and just think about how it could happen for you too – if luck is on your side, and you don’t give up.

One of the main things I took from the day is that things might not end up the way you expected. There are many paths to publication and even when you see your work going in one way, some outside force might interfere and knock you back again. The key is to keep writing. And hoping.

An opportunity arose to go to Qatar in March for St. Patrick’s weekend. My husband is a musician and these are some of the perks. After a long hard mammy-guilt ridden think, I decided against going and in the doom and gloom of realising that himself would be living it up in 30 degree desert heat and I would be stuck at home with wilted shamrock and a one year old, I discovered Doolin Writer’s Festival and booked myself in. I will be heading off, alone, to fraternise with other writers and such arty types in early March. Do I need to wear tie dye?

The final bit of writing news I’ll give you is that I was shortlisted in Imbas Books Celtic Mythology Short Story competition. I was very thrilled and there was a bit of back and forth with an edited story, that in the end didn’t make it. I was disappointed, but must force myself to look at the bright sides in that that it was considered one of the close runner ups and I have a nice, edited story on my hands. (I was also rejected form a literary journal, a publisher and an online awards event on the same day, but hey, who’s counting rejections?)

I have set up a Facebook group called Aspiring Authors Ireland. It’s aimed at people like me, who are working hard towards the goal of having a book published. You can join in. There are lots of Facebook groups out there and many spend a lot of time discussing how to market a self-published book or other tips. I wanted to have a conversation like you might find in a writer’s group, beforeTwitter retweet groups and Good Reads and everything else comes into it. Just the process of writing really.

So for now, the head is down, I’m working hard and I hope that in 2016 I will produce what could be considered a respectable first draft of a manuscript. Because after that, that’s when the hard work really starts. You know.

7 Comments on Coping with rejection and working hard

  1. First of all, congratulation on being shortlisted. I mean, that’s no small fit, you know? Sure, winning is great, but being shortlisted is very close and only the best achieve it. Who knows, maybe next time… 😉

    I’ve been a lonely writer for so many years, then I discovered the online writing community and a completley new world opened to me. I really mean it. Not only have I found fellow writers I can share my experience with, but I’ve also had the possibility to learn from them. I am aware that my writing has improved a lot after I started confronting myself with peers. So yeah, I’ll always advice to get involved in the writing community. It’s fun and it’s uselful.
    And if you can get involve with a group face-to-face that’s even better! I envy you…

    I think writing 70k words in a month is doable. I’m sure you’ll do it 🙂
    And the first draft is such a great journey. I wrote the first draft of my entire trilogy in seven months. sure, that’s a rhythm you can only afford with first drafts, revision is a completely different beast. But first draft… GO! I’m cheering for you.

    And I’m sure having talked about this won’t harm you at all 😉

    • Thank you so much for your comment – and sorry for the delay in response – i can be very scattered in my responses! You’re right, I have found the online writing community to be super supportive. Great place to share, particularly if you can’t get to attend writers groups, depending on your circumstances. Sounds like you are doing great work, best of luck with it. I’m cheering you too ! 🙂 🙂

  2. Well done on being shortlisted not only having a real plan (like me) but actually doing something to make that happen.
    I’ve no doubt you’ll get there in the end.
    Best of luck and keep on doing what you’re doing.

  3. I found your blog today and I am so happy that I did! I love your honesty about writing and the challenges that come with it. Perseverance is the key to success and all writers need tons of it. Although I was very lucky to have a non-fiction book published, my dream is to write a fictional novel, and yet I struggle endlessly with everything from plot to characterization, and even writing a decent sentence! So I am very happy to hear of your success and your continued belief in the joy of writing. The articles are very informative too. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Justine, I’m really looking forward to checking out your blog too. Writing is a challenge, but I find it so rewarding. Just back from a writers’ weekend. It seems we all struggle, with everything as you describe. I’m quite happy to talk about that struggle! I hope go get through your blog this week and looking forward to commenting.

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