Ah, the Rule of Three.
This week has been a perfect example of this in my world with the following occurring:
Spending my birthday scrubbing and painting my old flat with Uno isn't going to go in the history books as the best birthday ever (however, I fear it'll be one that I won't forget in a hurry). It was all for the greater good though as I'm now saw in my cosy new flat in the suburbs of Liverpool typing while I rock out to Planet Rock.
I've been ferrying my things to the new flat all week before I finally handed the keys back yesterday. On Tuesday evening, after throwing all manner of articles in the back of my car, I decided to stop and check my emails. And there it was.
The first Blackbrooke rejection.
As far as rejections go, it was the best yet. Someone had actually read it and taken the time to give me some constructive criticism. It's still a tough pill to swallow and the first reaction for me is to bawl my eyes out. Not because I'm a big baby (well, not entirely...) just because, when I do anything in life, I put my heart and soul into it and it hits me right in the chest if I feel like I've failed.
I've not had the time to write in the last couple of days and I suppose that's been a good thing because a rejection can jolt you. It's like the rejection acts as an earthquake and once it stops, you spend a bit of time, arms outstretched to the side, learning how to balance again. You can't help but wonder whether you're just not very good at this. Is it just another faddy hobby? Will I have a few more rejections and decide I'm not a writer anymore and turn my hand to something else? I damn well hope not.
For those writers who've received constructive criticism, you'll understand the slight dilemma I face. I want to soak in the advice like a sponge and take to the manuscript and perform some major cosmetic surgery. However, what's actual advice that needs to be acted on and how much comes down to their personal preference? Do other writers ignore these comments and stick to their guns? There's something slightly foolish about that in my mind as this is an outsider who's in the industry, offering her thoughts. Surely it would be silly to disregard them, but where do you draw the line? If I keep doing that (providing Blackbrooke gets to the 'feedback' stage again), then will I be left with a Frankensteins monster of a book - full of random writing styles and potentially a completely different plot? It's a tough one.
For all of my procrastinating, and after spending the last couple of days licking my wounds, I truly am so grateful to receive something worthwhile back from an agent for the first time. And this is the first agent I've sent Blackbrooke to so I can't beat myself up too much.
All of my friends who are aware of Blackbrooke weren't concerned with it, politely reminding me that's the way it goes. There will be more rejections along the way and I'm not even into double figures yet (counting Driving Exile) so I must plough on.
Sometimes the impossibility of it all overwhelms me. It's like painting a picture or creating a song - all down to timing.
A funny thing happened to Uno this week whereby she was in the car with her two sisters and a song came on that she really liked so she turned up the volume, to which her little sister piped up, "Are you kidding me? When I played you this song a few weeks ago, you said you hated it!" Uno denied this ever happened but on reflection, she did remember her sister playing the song, it was just that, at that particular time and place, she didn't really listen to it.
I think this an example of how it works when I send off my manuscript. If I manage to catch an agent at the right place, at the right time, when they're in the right mood, then they may love it. If I don't, then its a standard rejection.
Right place at the right time.
It all just seems so impossible sometimes and so beyond my reach. It's totally out of my control, I just have to make sure that I'm always part of the race. You have to be in it to win it, as they say. If I gave up now, I'd always be wondering whether Blackbrooke or Driving Exile would hit the right person and the right time.
So, onwards I go in my quest to get published.
Ps. I'm now the proud owner of a WH Smith Blue Fox typewriter, courtesy of Uno after spotting it at one of the car boot sales we did recently to flog some stuff from my flat. Check it out, I'm now officially a crazy writer.