A bit of a learning curve!

I came across this on Twitter: For most authors writing and finding your style has a bit of a learning curve. Writing today helps your writing tomorrow. [To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.] @WrtrStat

I read as far as ‘finding your style has a bit of a learning curve’ before my exclamation: A BIT OF A LEARNING CURVE! It took me years to develop my own style; I always had an idea of what I wanted to write but finding my own voice was a huge learning curve. What I wanted to write in the early days was probably cross-genre; never going to be easy. My favourite author was Ruth Rendell and her explorations of the misfits, the unbalanced and the downright mad. But, and here was my conundrum, I love historical novels and that sense of being transported into another time and place where life was very different. Yet even though people in medieval times thought differently, had different morals, laws, societal expectations and religious constraints, human emotions were the same. We all feel anger, betrayal, love, lust, hate, jealousy and the mad were still misfits.

In teaching myself to write, I found my style. And I realised, for me, I had to find historical characters, a place, a time and events to pin my imagination upon and to create fiction around, fiction that, as far as I was concerned, was going to be about the mad, the unbalanced, the misfits.

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Rejection

Rejection. What a horrible word! Rhymes with failure (doesn’t actually but you know what I mean).

You’ve finally finished your novel, you’ve edited it, proofread and polished it. You’ve spent as much time writing a synopsis as you did actually writing it. You’ve perfected your cover email, researched your target literary agents and publishers and now you’re ready to hit them with your magnificent opus. And the rejection email comes winging back. (Not for us. Unsuitable for our lists. Better luck elsewhere. The market is extremely competitive. We liked your work but… ) Gutted.

So what do you do? Cry your eyes out? Crawl under the duvet and stay there for days? Delete the manuscript? Swear you’ll never write another word? Take it as a huge personal insult? Swear vengeance?

No! You shout ‘Next!’ And send it out again. Never ever give up.

Do you know the story of Marlon James, Booker Prize Winner 2015 for A Brief History of Seven Killings, who wrote off his own writing career after receiving 78 rejections? His last rejection said, ‘Not for us.’ He deleted his manuscript, destroyed his computer and then made all his friends dispose of their copies. One of them didn’t. On winning the Booker Prize 2015, he said, ‘If you’re a writer, you have to believe in yourself. Because if you’re a writer, you’re going to come across that moment where you’re the only one who does.’ I love this; he had the humility and the courage, not only to say how many rejections he had had before finally being published, but to then give such encouragement and hope to other struggling writers.

So what are you going to do next time you receive a rejection?

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