Tuesday, 18 January 2011

TURNING POINTS




There’s an old saying: A friend is someone who knows the song you sing and who sings it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.

I’m blessed with amazing writing friends. Some are online, some I meet in the flesh. All understand the slog of writing when it feels like nobody hears you, the frustration of not-getting-there, the longing for acceptance.

A while ago, as I trudged through the ever-familiar Slough of Despond, my friend Derek said: ‘Don’t forget. Things can turn on a sixpence.’ There was something about that phrase which stayed with me, and which gave me hope.

Recently, I hit a big low. An agent had asked for the full manuscript of my novel, after saying he loved the first 50 pages. The ‘L’ word! Off went the novel, and I prepared to wait. After two months, I nudged. He said he’d ‘get back to me very soon’. I waited. A month later, he replied. He was sorry to give my novel such a negative review at the beginning of the new year, but…

Fair enough. He didn’t love it any more. As is my wont, I emailed my writing friends with this news and as always, they rallied round in their wonderful and supportive way. Derek added that he’d sent me something in the post.

Next day, I stuck my chin out and entered a competition. And I also subbed the first two chapters of my novel to a small, new publisher whose details had been sitting in my inbox for a while. Derek had sent me them, suggesting I try them.

That night I received a delightful response from the publisher. She liked my synopsis, and would read the chapters. The day after, another email. She liked the chapters and would like to read the whole novel. And a few days later she emailed to say that she was reading the novel at bedtime and didn't want to get to the end. It’s hard to describe what it felt like to receive such an immediate – and positive – response. Whatever happens, I won’t forget the boost this gave me at a time when I’d hit bottom.

Soon afterwards, an envelope arrived: Derek’s mystery missive, which had been travelling through the ether towards me since my miserable rejection email. Inside, a beautiful card with the words: ‘Dear Susie, Welcome to the next stage of your journey.’

And shining like a tiny star, a sixpence.

34 comments:

Helen Black said...

I don't suppose it will come as a shock to know that I'm nt very sentimental.

A big fat practical northerner, that's me.

But your post brought a tear to my eye...and at 6.15am that aint half bad.
HBx

Caroline Green said...

And me, at 6.55. Wonderful, wonderful post. I'm a bit in love with Derek too.
GOOD LUCK!!!!

Roderic Vincent said...

That's a lovely story, Susie; I look forward to the next chapters, as you go from strength to strength - you are already so close. And an inspired gift from Derek. I bet you will keep that sixpence safe.

Luisa said...

Oh, what a wonderful post, and what a wonderful friend. Good luck, Susie!

Fionnuala said...

What a wonderful inspirational TIMELY post... as always from you Susie. x

Morton S Gray said...

Can I have Derek as a friend please? He sounds wonderfully supportive. What is it about this writing life that provides such highs and lows? Your post bought tears to my eyes. Mx

Anonymous said...

i'd like to say this brought a tear to my eye, but where writing is concerned i have become turtle-like, and stay well under my shell, it takes a lot for me to stick the soft bits out:)

Very good luck, though. Keep us posted.

Sam

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, all. :)
Helen, you big fat tearful practical northerner you... ;)
Rod, the sixpence is on the table in front of me and will definitely be kept safe.
Caroline and Morton, Derek is a regular visitor here at Strictly and also has his own blog called Along The Write Lines. He'll probably be deeply embarrassed when he reads this!
Sam, the old story of the Hare and the Tortoise comes to mind...
Susiex

Anonymous said...

Yes, i am deffo the tortoise. Looks like you could be about to become the hare (a successful one:))

x

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I doubt it, Sam. I've always seen myself as more of a tortoise. Let's hope we'll both eventually break that tape.
Susiex

Debs Riccio said...

*still blubbing* such an inspirational, motivational, hopeful post. Just what we all need in these grim, dank January days... lovely!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Aw, thanks Debs! :)
Susiex

Julie P said...

Fantastic! Triumph after rejection - bet you're glad you stuck your chin out!

Writing friends are great aren't they.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Writing friends are fantastic. :)
Susiex

Caroline Rance said...

Beautiful post, Susie! I think Derek comments on here sometimes, doesn't he? What a great guy!

Derek said...

Well.... erm... that's very kind of you, Susie.

astrid said...

Best of luck. I remember reading those words 'We wish to offer you a contract of publication..' and still get heady at the thought. What a rush! I was sitting in bar last summer, gravel and iron chairs, with a mate from Australia who I handed my phone to check I hadn't had too much campari! Then I really couldn't function!
My book The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy is coming out on 1st June 2011 with Indigo Dreams Press and here is my blog if you'd like to join the whirl: http://thedivorcedladyscompaniontoitaly.blogspot.com
Ciao and all good wishes to you!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Wow, Astrid, congratulations! Will pop over to your blog. Hope your book does really well.
Susiex

Morton S Gray said...

Hi Susie, I have mentioned your blog on mine today as it bought a tear to my eye - http://mortongray.blogspot.com/. Mx

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks for the mention, Morton. What a wonderful husband you have! And your name is very authorly - will look great on a cover.
Susiex

Morton S Gray said...

Oooo I hope so. Thanks Mx

penandpaints said...

I'm so glad to have read this post, what a lovely story. Wishing you all the best!

Kath said...

Chuffed to bits for you? Yes, I am.
Moved by your story? Yes, to tears.
Surprised by the news? Not a jot.

Well done you clever clever gal.
x

And Derek, keep blushing, you've earned it!

Kath said...

Chuffed to bits for you? Yes, I am.
Moved by your story? Yes, to tears.
Surprised by the news? Not a jot.

Well done you clever clever gal.
x

And Derek, keep blushing, you've earned it!

Lydia said...

Lovely story, Susie. I hope said publisher comes up trumps. I don't post here as often as I used to as am still more involved in short stories than novels but I well remember one dreadful day when I was in need of a cyber hug and you were right there for me. You've probably forgotten but it meant a lot to me at the time. So thanks again and lots of luck with the novel. x

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Lydia said...
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Susie Nott-Bower said...

What a lovely lot of people you are - thanks, penandpaints, Lydia, and Kath! :)
Susiex

Flowerpot said...

That is amazing news Susie - brilliant, just brilliant.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Flowerpot - it was a lovely boost. Hope yours is on its way too.
Susiex

Emma Darwin said...

Oh Susie, that's such good news - and how lovely of Derek. Darkest before Dawn, and all that... Very best of luck with it all.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Aw, thanks Emma! :) Whatever, it's been a lovely boost. And YAY again for Derek!
Susiex

Susannah Rickards said...

I've caught up with this late, Susie, but what a fantastic story. Oooh, so exciting. Hold tight to the boar. You really deserve this.

xxxx S

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Susannah! :)
Susiex