This week a very polite Transition Year student emailed me. He's writing a piece for the Irish Indo on rejection and asked had my work ever been rejected. Well the answer is yes, of course! Most writers if not all have had to deal with some sort of rejection. It's part of the writing game. So you'd better get used to it.Here's what I told him:
My first book, KIds Can Cook was rejected six times before it was finally published by Children's Press. Every time the postman knocked on the door and handed my manuscript back to me in a self-addressed jiffy bag, my heart sank. But I was determined, so I kept sending it out to different publishers. I was twenty-five at the time, and I knew had a good hook and hadn't been done before, so I just kept trying. As Beckett once said 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'
Eventually it was picked up and published and became a very successful book. The experience taught me three things: 1/ to write what you love and are passionate about 2/ to do your market research (esp if you want to write popular fiction or non fiction) 3/ to never give up.
Writers must have or develop a thick skin. Even now I get ideas for books turned down by my agent or my publishers, because they are not good enough or not quite right for the market, or it's been done before.
Writing is a tough job, but the rewards - for me, readers who get what I'm trying to say - are worth it. But it's hard work and you have to have a lot of self belief. Being stubborn also helps! Boy does being stubborn help!
I met a professional dancer the other day in RTE who has worked on the X-Factor and other huge shows - we were both on a children's show called Elev8 - and he was asked the secret of his success. Hard work he said. And sticking with it. And going to dance class every day you're not working and keeping fit.
It's a lot like writing. The secret: hard work, daily practice and sticking with it.
Better take my own advice and get back to the writing now!
Yours in writing,