The Rejection Box: A Recap

I am (once again) fresh out of both news and ideas, so I have had possibly my laziest idea yet, and am literally going to give you a summary of The Rejection Box progress so far. There was going to be a graph, but I think we can all agree that would have been too far; instead, I have chosen to express each month through the medium most true to my inner nature: gifs.

January – Bring It. 

bring it.gif

Oh, so full of hope. Plans were in place, blog posts were long because time was plentiful, submissions flowed like the Niagara Falls. One measly rejection was received and basically lauded as a sign of legitimacy. Halcyon days, my friends. Halcyon days.

February – Productivity to the MAX.

productive

Still going strong – posts were lengthy and covered a range of topics that I thought would never dry up (ahem). The first full MS request was received, and even though I tried SUPER hard not to be, in retrospect the naivety of it is properly pitiful…

March – Peaks and Troughs. 

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The erstwhile peak of The Rejection Box. Yeah, there were ups and downs – two full MS requests along with two more full MS rejections, but hell if things weren’t moving. Goodness me, the mood swings.

April – Denial. 

denial.gif

Looking back, this was the beginning of the decline. Assertions that I’m really not an amateur, beginning to consider what happens if I’ve just humiliated myself on the internet…but still, (mostly) regular posts on real topics. So. That’s something.

May – Anger. 

anger.gif

By this point there is a definite tone of toddler tantrum-ing in the subtext of all the posts. Only at the end of May do the cracks really show themselves, but prior to that there is a clear, rage-y panic that I’m doing everything I can and it is going exactly nowhere.

June – Bargaining.

begging-gif-19

Here we hit the wheedling stage of ‘no, come on now, don’t you think I deserve just a LITTLE bit of not-failing?’ Posts have taken a short and sporadic turn, and mostly revolve around trying to find new ways of saying I really am trying, but success is one devilishly tricksy little bastard…

July – Depression.

depression.gif

With the exception of the brief moment of Chicken House potential, July was pretty much a surrender to the Failure Powers That Be. I was pretty ill this month, in my own defence, but it still reads a touch like a mental breakdown…

August – Acceptance. 

acceptance.gif

Still not exactly ALIVE with blog posts or productivity, but I think (hope) that there is a slight upward turn here. Having been clobbered into the dirt, my hopes and intentions are JUST about ready to peek out from the ashes and play dead if Failure comes stomping past again. Maybe?

So that was worthwhile, eh!

 

 

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What Does ‘Successful’ Mean?

Guys, brace yourselves. This is going to be an actual, real blog post.

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It occurred to me recently (months ago, actually, but hey) that I’ve talked a lot about wanting to be ‘successful’ and how hard I’ve been trying to achieve any ‘success’ and how desperate I am to even touch a blob of ‘success’, without ever actually defining the term. Do I mean I want to get a publishing contract? Hold my own, completed and printed, novel in my hands? Earn my living through writing? Become a squillionaire? Have newspapers hand me their monthly title of ‘the next JK Rowling’?

Well, yeah. I mean, that’d be sweet.

But sadly, I’ve been writing/trying to get a book published/cyber-stalking successful writers for ten years, and have long since tempered my thirteen-year-old intentions (of appearing on talk shows to promote the celebrity-starring film adaptation of my bestselling children’s novel) with a hearty dose of reality. Don’t get me wrong, the Dream Big Scenario is still – and will always be – to be a rich and renowned writer of books that people love.

But I’m not as stupid as I often sound.

As the years have gone by, my ambition for my own potential writing career has gradually deflated, surged up and (in the darkest hours of rejection) been replaced with the Primary Life Ambition of ‘owning a dishwasher’.  ‘Success’ is not a definition I have set in stone – even for me it’s a totally subjective concept, and I’m sure that anyone you asked would define it differently. But it’s been on my mind a lot recently, as I have once again found myself sacrificing my fought-for and valued writing time wringing job applications from my tired and frustrated brain, for positions I don’t actually want. (Please excuse the millenial* whining.)

On the plus side, it’s usually times like this when I settle on Becky’s Definitive Definition of Personal Success. And it is this: to be enabled, through publication of a novel, to build my working life around writing for children.

In translation, I want to hold my own, professionally published book in my hands. I want to earn some portion – and it doesn’t matter how tiny – of my living through writing. I want publication of a novel to give me a key to doors that are only open to published writers – to apply for residencies, take part in author visits at schools, attend book festivals and participate in the community of children’s/YA writers who are living, as far as I’m concerned, the Life of Riley.

Now don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world I’d be able to live a comfortable life by spending my working days doing the thing I love and am good at. But I think my subconscious feels that if I set my sights a little lower – to being able to call myself a published writer, and desperately pimping myself out accordingly – then maybe the universe will compromise, and give me something. You never know.

So that’s ‘success’, to me. And I’ve been thinking about it for so long, I can’t even tell if it sounds tragic or arrogant anymore…

*Please also excuse the use of the word ‘millenial’.

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Taking A Wee Break

So you’ve probably noticed that the quantity and quality of my posts has generally nosedived over the last couple of months. I did bookmark when this was going to happen, but was even worse than my word and have posted little and not-at-all-often. This has partly been because of general life busy-ness, but mostly it’s been because I haven’t sent off any new submissions at all in a fair few weeks now – other than to Chicken House.

fail

Now that was (mostly) on purpose because, Jesus Christ, I’d just reached rejection saturation point. The cycle of rejection > rejection > possible good news > tense waiting > rejection > rejection > possible good news (etc.) was not doing my long-term emotional stability much good, and I’d started to feel so desperate that I kind of forgot why I was trying in the first place.

So I spent a couple of months actually writing, and you know what? Turns out I actually LIKE it! As it transpires, the reason I was trying so hard to make writing my thing that I do most days is because it’s a lovely thing to do with most days! Who knew?

It’s brought back a bit of my zen, and I think (maybe) I’m ready to dip my toe back into the Rejection pool. I wouldn’t hold your breath for an upsurge in blog posts – I still want to focus more on my new writing project – but hopefully I’ll actually have some things to say in them again…

So here I go, back towards the publishing industry like:

hug fail.gif

People You Should Follow On Twitter

Another quick one this week, delving into the really quite sweet community of YA readers / writers on Twitter.

I should probably say that I actively, in-my-bones hate the title and first sentence of this post. There’s something about writing about social media that makes me feel like my teeth are glued together with syrup. I’m a fairly sporadic Twitter user (which means I mostly forget I have it, then have intervals of ‘shit, I was supposed to be trying to build a following and I haven’t tweeted in a fortnight’, swiftly followed by ‘so…how does one build a following again?’), but as my tweeting mostly revolves around my writing, so do most of my follow-ees.

So, having been all over my feed for YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this past weekend: here’s my pick of favs to follow in the writing (often specifically YA/children’s writing) community, just in case you care:

@sarahcrossan – YA writer

@WalkerBooksYA – YA dept for Walker Books. Duh.

@canongatebooks – whoever Canongate’s social media manager is, s/he deserves a raise.

@acaseforbooks – Anna James, who knows/reads/recommends a lot

@matthaig1 – writer

@HaggardHawks – this has provided me with more character names than will ever be useful

@Patrick_Ness – if you haven’t heard me talking about him you must be very new

@junodawson – YA writer

@ClaireWingfield – editor and literary consultant

@johngreen – YA writer / professional internet-er (shh, it’s a thing)

Sorry for another scab post, there’ll be a real one up soon, I promise! ‘Til next time.

stayclassy

 

A spade is a spade, and this is a Placeholder Post.

Er…oops. Again.

I don’t even have an excuse as to why I forgot to post two blogs in a row, and then randomly came back on a Wednesday. I’ve been kinda busy, and fairly ill, and mostly lazy. So to make up for it (as I’m sure you’ve been crying yourself to sleep), I don’t have a post, but I am going to leave you with a random collection of my favourite gifs.

And (hopefully), I’ll see you on Monday.

dance hit baby

fuck...

go faster

i regret nothing (5)it's dinner time

Enjoying the Unopened Box

So I’m guessing most of you know what Schrodinger’s Cat is, but for the sake of clarity; the idea as far as I understand it (and I’m quite sure it’s infinitely more complicated than the way I understand it) is that if you put a cat in a box with a bunch of other nasty stuff, then until you open the box, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead – in that, until you open the box, you don’t know which it is. Now my knowledge of physics is limited to some half-remembered, disconnected GCSE facts, but this I actually understand. (Well, sort of – I did have to clarify with Pete that this was just a ‘thought experiement’, and that Schrodinger didn’t actually put a cat in a box and wait for it to die.)

Currently, I feel like I have a (metaphorical) cat in a box.

Bear with me.

So last Friday morning I pottered into New Writing North to edit some Cuckoo reviews, got myself set up, opened the various tabs I need for work and the various others I have open anyway. When I got to Twitter, I saw this:

tweet

Now my initial feeling was, obviously, excitement. Then anxiety. Then, when I looked sideways at how many reviews I had to edit that day, a wince. But hey, let’s be honest, it was a small miracle I’d bothered to check Twitter in the 24 hours I had to find out about this; I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up.

So, intending to send tweet-pitches for both my new project and the book I’ve been submitting, I cracked on. I started with the new project, because a hook occurred to me pretty much immediately. For the interested, this was my pitch:

“What if YOU were your own currency? Sweets cost eyelashes, a car costs a memory, true love; your health. And what if you made a bad trade?”

Then I settled back to work, thinking I’d work on the next one during my lunch break (it takes an inordinate amount of time to condense an 85,000 word novel into 140 characters). Exactly TEN MINUTES later, I received a private message from Chicken House asking me to send a full novel pitch and my manuscript in progress to them. Bearing in mind I’m used to waiting 2-3 MONTHS for a reply, for about a minute and a half my only reaction was this:

blink

Then I stood up and sat down again, did an in-the-chair jig, clapped my hands together like a three year old on their birthday and sort of stared around the empty office, wondering what the hell to do with myself. I ended up leaving work early through sheer friggin joy.

So over the weekend I have been frantically writing, re-writing, re-writing again and trying to work out what on earth a ‘full novel pitch’ actually is. It’s honestly been a blast. Mostly because it feels like it’s been a good while now since I’ve had a positive response to my writing – I know that in the scheme of things it hasn’t been that long at all, but Jesus it’s felt that way. I’d gotten myself properly mired in the Rejection Blues. So even to have had a thumbs-up that doesn’t lead anywhere is just the best kick up the arse I could have received.

But speaking of leading anywhere, this is where we come back to Schrodinger’s cat. Even though you thought I’d finally cracked at the beginning of this post, here is the relevance: this is my unopened box. This brief period in between being given good news, and finding out it’s not going anywhere. And unlike my previous full MS requests, where I checked my emails relentlessly and willed the agencies to respond to me as fast as possible, this time I plan to just enjoy the knowledge that the cat could be alive in there.

On Friday, for the first time in ages, I bounced home, and spent the rest of the day high as a bloody kite. To make matters even better, I got a phone-buzz every time someone liked the pitch I’d sent in to Chicken House, and every one pumped a little bit more air into my happy bubble. And I know – Christ, do I know – that this bubble is more than likely to pop, but fuck it.

Right now it’s fat and happy, and so am I. Whether the cat’s alive or dead, for the rest of this week at least, I plan to enjoy every single second of not knowing.

happy dance

 

Whoops.

So…I missed a week, and then I came back with an absolute nonentity of a post (this).

clueless

The tragic part is that I wasn’t even busy writing, or submitting, or getting rejections or anything. I was on holiday, not suffering for my art in the slightest. Even so, as a result of flight times I’ve been up since 2.30am this morning, so please excuse me whilst I go collapse in bed until next week, where at least a little actual effort will be made.

‘Til next week!

EDIT: Just remembered, I actually did get one rejection! Yay?