05 March 2010

Can't stand up for falling down

Well, here we are in leek and daffodil month and I’ve heard back from three of the six agents I wrote to in mid-January… All have said pretty much the same thing – No. Sign of how few new clients we’re taking on rather than your writing, personal, don’t give up, keep at it, other agents may feel differently… So with the three rejections before Christmas that’s a half dozen. Yackerty-schmackerty.

I understand that agents cannot, and will not, give reasons why something hasn’t ticked all the boxes for them, but it’s really hard to know whether or not to keep sending it out, especially given that, in truth, I’m not sure that it’s publishable. I’ve enough experience and I’ve had enough positive and encouraging comments from readers, writers and professional editors (not to mention the Virginia Prize long-listing) to know that I can churn out some nice prose when I put my mind to it, but whether or not I can produce a 100,000 word plus tale with a coherent plot, convincing characters that we care about, interesting ideas and that all important X factor remains to be seen. My big niggle is saleability, given that I’m playing with genre and I’m not Margaret Atwood or Susan Hill (I bloody wish), and agents and the big publishers like to put new writers in boxes. Ho-hum. Perhaps I ought to start approaching the independents given that although they publish far fewer books, they are said to take more risks (or some of them do). So, I’m sticking at it for some time yet – at least the entire year, I think - as well as scribbling away at my second novel, which I’m having far too good a time writing to trust it at the moment. There’s no pleasing some people, eh?
I read a Japanese proverb in this month’s Writers’ Magazine. ‘Fall seven times, stand up eight’. So here am I standing up for the seventh time.

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