There’s the story about JK Rowling having had ‘loads‘ of rejections before she published the Harry Potter books. I have had none. That’s not me being smug, because the reality is that I have not sent out either of my novels to agents and publishers.
I have entered a couple of first chapter competitions, but I haven’t had that letter (it’s more likely to be the email these days). The badge of honour among authors.
Through a number of reasons, some mainly to do with procrastination and some the fear of rejection. This is something that I have neglected to do. I need to change my strategy if only so I know where my novels can be pitched when it comes to market. Even if I don’t get published in the traditional sense, I may get feedback that will help me shape my writing going forward If I choose to self-publish my work in the future.
So, the plan in the coming weeks is to open the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and circle a number of the names that I would like to send my book out to. In the hope of getting closer to my novels being published. Here’s looking forward to the rejections flooding in…along with that one acceptance.
It’s July and we’re past the halfway mark of the year. It has been a difficult one given the pandemic and lockdown. Thankfully I have been okay and my family too. Although a few of my neighbours have been affected. They are thankfully on the mend.
At the start of the year, I set out a few of my writing ambitions for the year. Having been something of a sporadic writer, I decided to be more productive and committed this year. I signed up for the BXP Challenge to write at least 200 words a day. I’m pleased to say that I have not missed a day doing this and I’ve written 48,458 words for the year. This has been helped by writing whenever I could. That would have been on trains in the morning, instead of doom scrolling on social media. A few notes on my phone or a laptop in coffee shops has enabled me to build up a head of steam. Not having to commute since March has helped, especially in my most busy periods May and July when I was busy marking. I still managed to get something written.
One good thing about being this productive is that it enabled me to finish a few things that I had been planning to do. My first novel, Difficult First Album, was waiting for one final edit before I could send it out to publishers. That’ll be done. My second novel is close to being redrafted.
Yesterday I finished my submission for the 33 1/3 series for a book on the band Tears for Fears. This is an idea I have had for a while and I have had a few notes hanging around that needed finishing. They have call-outs every year for submission ideas, I have missed the boat for many reasons. Thankfully this time I have managed to get something finished.
It may be an obvious thing to say, but the whole idea of showing up and getting things done has worked for me. I will carry on in the same manner for the remainder of the year.
At the start of the lockdown, there were several articles published about having all the time to finish that novel. That is something I had been trying to do since the start of the year, so I was ahead of that curve.
So, while, everyone else went off at a rate of knots doing the Joe Wicks workout, baking banana bread or painting the house, I was editing, using the extra time that I was saving on the commute.
Weirdly with more time, comes more distractions to occupy the creative time. First was the latest series of Curb Your Enthusiasm to get through and there was the Tiger King. There’s the Star Wars Skywalker Saga boxset that’s been released on DVD. Then there’s the work which has luckily for me has not disappeared because of lockdown. Instead, I have had to adapt to teaching online using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Thankfully that has gone smoothly without any hitches. There’s no commute which is a blessed relief, not having to battle with the daily clown show that is Northern Rail.
Why is that my word count for April was less than it was for the preceding three months? I’m still doing a minimum of 200 words. April was mainly reading and re-editing so the new words may have replaced those that were no longer needed.
As we enter May and June, it’s marking season. That means my creative projects get put on hold. Here’s hoping that I can keep the writing streak going.
I’m not one for doing New Year’s resolutions, but this year I did and I resolved to write more. Yep, that one again. Usually, by this time of the year, I would be still building up to this happening. With the usual excuses of writer’s block or that I didn’t have the time due to work. The work situation is still as busy as it has ever been, with the usual bundles of prep and marking to get through.
As we enter weeks of lockdown, I have been taking stock of what I have written this last year. I have racked up 28,764 words so far. This is from various projects new or that needed editing.
This has been done by signing up for the BXP Writing Challenge that sees writers producing 200 words per day. Before the lockdown, I did this by writing on the train and which was often delayed on the way to work – it made a frustrating regular occurrence all the more productive.
Sometimes it was easier to write more, sometimes it was a struggle to get to 200 words, sometimes the words flowed freely, sometimes it was an effort to drag the words out.
It was worth signing up to and I realise that I am not that focused unless I have some sort of goal. I would recommend it any writer out there.
Tonight was the launch of PulpIdol Firsts 2015, which included my chapter ‘Difficult First Album’. It was organised by the excellent Writing on the Wall organisation and hosted by Siren. Liverpool.
There was a similar format to the final in May, and included six of the people who took part that night.
It was good to meet up with the other writers and see how they were progressing with their novels. It was also good to hear and read the other chapters on the night also.
The physical copies were available, I had already downloaded the Kindle version earlier on in the week, and I was given a couple of free copies. I also picked up a number of others that will make good Christmas presents for friends and family.
It is great to see my creative work published for the first time, especially in printed form. As I’m in the process of editing the novel, things like this are inspiring in attempting to get my novel finished.
Last year, I entered the PulpIdol first chapter competition, held each year as part of the Liverpool Writing on the Wall Literature Festival. It is something that I have circled in the diary, but it was the first time I had something substantial to submit and I was selected for the heats. I didn’t make it through, but the experience was a good one, especially the chance to meet other writers and to get feedback from the judges who are al published authors. I would say that the experience kick-started my desire to take the more creative writing side a bit more seriously and led to me signing up for my MA.
Fast forward twelve months, the Writing on the Wall Festival and in particular PulpIdol is back, and yet again I submitted a chapter of a novel for the competition. It is one that I had been working on this term during the workshops as part of my MA. It had been polished, restructured and generally bashed about to make it worth listening to (or reading). Again I was successful in making it to the heats.
The heat that I was selected for took place in the wonderful setting of the Liverpool Central Library. There were a number of heats over two nights, as well as an online one. From these they would select ten writers for the final, who would all have the prize of being published in the yearly Firsts anthology.
Having been given my heat, and dodged the bullet of going first (I ended up reading fifth). I sat through a number of really good and interesting first chapters. In my mind I was trying to place mine alongside the others. Once all the chapters had been read the judges sent everyone outside while they had their deliberations as to the three that would go through. Milling around outside gave us the chance to chat to our fellow contestants and a wonderfully supportive bunch they were. I was even chatting to someone who had travelled down from Newcastle to take part, there’s commitment for you. After what was only a short delay, but with the nerves kicking in, it seemed longer. They called us in to hear who had made it through to the final
They called out the first winner, who was sat next to me and while I was congratulating her, they read out my title, and then my name. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I was still taking it in, when they called out the third name, I nearly forgot to applaud him given that I was still processing what was going on.
So I have made it through to the final. Delighted, doesn’t quite cover how I feel after this. The final will select a winner, but knowing that I will be published in the anthology next year, is enough of a reward. Just to be in the final is a great achievement.