Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cry Me A River

On Sunday night, the kids and I, like millions more, settled down at 8pm to watch the X Factor.


Less typically, we were dressed respectively as Voldomort, a werewolf and Frankenstein's monster as we'd spent the evening trick or treating.

Sadly, as we traipsed our sorry route through the village begging for sweets, it bucketed it down, so our face paint and fake blood pooled unattractively under our chins.


Fortunately, we had amassed two carrier bags full of fun sized Milky Ways to cheer our spirits, as we sat, steaming, glued to the set.


Far removed were the poor contestants who looked like they could well do with some chocolate.


For the uninitiated, the X Factor is a talent show which culminates in a weekly public vote to decide who will remain to fight another day and who will be kicked off the show.
Brutally, the contestants are lined up like christians waiting for the lions to be released, while the public cheer and jeer.

Then, one by one, the survivors' names are read out until only two acts remain. These are the losers who will have to howl their way through another number before being subjected to the final judgment by Simon Cowell and his mates.


Imagine Herrod asking the crowd between Jesus and Barrabus and you're not far wrong.


This week, the losers were a girl band in very high heels and a funky young hipster who sounds like she smokes forty a day.
As they waited for the axe to fall they wept bitter tears with the world watching.

And the question on any normal sane person's lips must surely be...why would anyone put themselves through that?
Why would a person bare themselves to the thumbs up or thumbs down, time after time?


And I understand the incredulity, but, as a writer, I've got to admit that I get it.


As soon as any of us scribbers put pen to paper we begin the rejection courtship dance.


First, there's our inner critic. The one that tells us we are rubbish wiht every word we write.

Next comes 'feedback' from trusted readers, writers groups or mentors. It's a very rare day when they smile at us and declare ' you've a Booker winner on your hands.'

At some stage we release our work and try to secure an agent. Cue letter upon letter thanking us for our submission but actually, it's not for them.

And if you thought getting an agent was the end of the merry jig, think again. Enter a raft of publishers, all gushsing with praise, but on reflection, they won't be buying your book, they just don't love it enough.

Finally, the writer gets a deal. Yay. Salad days. Except...the editor isn't too keen on the title/the ending/the sub plot.

But there it is, at last, a book. A real book. You've done it. No more rejection.

WRONG.

It's only just begun...sales figures disappointing, the supermarkets not too sure. Then some bastard pans you on Amazon.


But you know what? Despite all the knockbacks, I love it. I choose to put myself and my work out there so I have to take the pain. If you can't, you're dead in the water and this game aint for you.
Same as the contestants on the X Factor, today their heart s breaking but tomorrow they'll be back in the saddle.

Cos that's what we do...now pass the Maltezers.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Funny you should post this today. I was just licking my wounds after a sarcastic rejection from an editor and wondering whether you (and other established writers) ever experience rejection. For me it's absurd how much I let external events affect how I feel about the whole writing game. My confidence goes up and down like a shuttlecock.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Rejections are par for the course even for established authors. I have had lots of stories published but last week I got a rejection for a story that had also been rejected by another mag. I don't take it personally. I'll leave it a few months and go back and see if I can resurrect it, but I'm not going to cry about it.

However, I can see that I might have felt differently if, in the same week, I hadn't sold a four-part serial. So I think it depends. We all need validation and encouragement.

Anonymous, I don't know where your critic got off with their sarcastic rejection. Budding writers need encouragement. If you have that email or letter delete/chuck it out now. Only remember the positive comments.

Karen said...

Great post - I'd never really thought of it like that.

Maybe that's why I like watching shows like the X-Factor; because I sort of understand why they do it.

Although if I was forced to pitch my novel on television to a panel of judges I might think twice!

Helen Black said...

I think all writers suffer rejection, even the most successful.

JKRowling et al are constantly rubbished no matter how many books they sell or how many children adore their work.

Even Stephen King got stuck in, declaring JKR unable to write well.

Juts gotta suck it up I'm afraid.
HB x

Caroline Green said...

Funny but I've also had that thought about the similarities with X Factor - ditto Masterchef! It's all about putting yourself up there and laying yourself open to rejection. Only difference I guess is that showbizzy types often seem to exude confidence and I haven't met many writers like that...

Love the thought of you all watching in your wrecked, Halloween state!