How I didn’t cope

I’ve had some ups and downs with internet, phone and so on, plus a changing work schedule over the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been extremely irregular about the blog. A lot of things have happened in my writing world, and I’ll talk more about that later. The big thing was this: the agent who was so excited about The Swan Harp decided to pass.

I was crushed. I’d believed, because of her positive comments and some previous communication, that it was a very strong possibility that she would sign me. I’m not stupid enough, naive enough or optimistic enough to think it was ever a sure thing, but I thought I had a really good chance. And maybe I did, but not good enough.

I cried and cried. I kept it together at work – mostly – but the moment I was back in the car for the drive home I burst into tears and cried so hard I couldn’t get my breath. Poor David wanted to put his arms around me, and I was struggling so hard to breathe I just wanted to be left alone, me and my shocked and paralysed lungs.

I said all the negative things we all feel when something like that happens. There’s no point going on. Why bother writing the next two books? Why bother writing again at all? Why wasn’t it good enough? I worked so hard on it – what did she want? I don’t understand the comments she made! It’s hopeless. I can’t face this again. I’ve wasted a year and a half. I’m wasting my time. What makes me think I’ll ever have a novel published?

That lasted forever, or at least it seemed like forever. Probably thirty-six hours, but they were truly horrible hours. I didn’t sleep well. There were other things mitigating against my recovery from this – I’ve just changed shifts at work, and in less than two days we went from going to bed at three a.m. to getting up at four-thirty a.m. The furnace is misbehaving. The phone connection is on the blink, and we have to get someone out to fix it on a day when we can both be home. I have laryngitis. It all piled up and made things look worse than they were – and a rejection after a year of dedicated work and high hopes is bad enough.

I’ve had a lot of comfort and support from people who know my writing, or who know the writing life, or who just know me. They’ve all said some variation of the same thing: “That totally sucks. But of course you’re going to send it out again, right?”

And, yes, I am. For one thing, I have a grant application due on December 15th. For another, after I calmed down and considered the communication I had with the agent, I’m convinced she probably isn’t much into fantasy. And for the record, I’m not mad at her, and I don’t hate her, and I think she dealt with me as fairly as she possibly could. I think, as much as I wanted to work with her, and as much as I liked her, she was not the right agent for me.

But here’s the stupid thing. In the middle of this shitstorm of shock and grief and self-pity there was a little chunk of me with her arms folded and her eyebrows raised saying, “You know you can’t quit writing. I bet you couldn’t quit for a mountain of chocolate delivered by a naked man.” Terry Pratchett calls these “third thoughts”, and I have them all the time.

Irritating, really. Because the bitch is right, dammit.

This entry was posted in Doing the Work, Fumbling towards competence, Out in the World and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How I didn’t cope

  1. Keith Cupido says:

    Oh Elizabeth,
    That’s such crappy news! Yet there IS no turning back… Defeat happens only when you quit trying. Keep marching, er, typing forward. Your day will come 🙂

  2. Wow. So sorry. It’s one thing to hear that “no”. It’s another thing entirely to be led along like that. Makes one wonder. Been there and hated it. I lost my baby to the book orphanage in a change of personel at the publisher’s. No explanation. It was all go, go, go. Then, no. I started a new policy, then, to get me over being gun shy. I reward myself with something decadent for earning each rejection. Couldn’t go forward without it. If they don’t want me, I get a hot fudge sundae. If they do, I get published. Win/win. 🙂

  3. lucinda kempe says:

    I think you cope well, E. You wrote about it with heart and fearlessly. That’s what writer’s do. Keep on. Gawd, it could be worse, you might have to eat all that sugar and knit something for that naked man to cover up with!!!


  4. joe sufady says:

    Keep on writing Elizabeth. You are a great writer…Never ever give up. As that tired new age cliche says: it’s the journey not the destination that really matters.

  5. lauren amin says:

    Dear Elizabeth, when I first met you, you taught me that fairies were probably real and that Faerie was a real place.

    You believe in magic…why is reality even an issue? Isn’t it sad that you had to step outside your magical realm (which you say is fantastical) to bring this realm to the rest of the world?

    Step back inside, Elizabeth…get out of the ‘real’ world. Send your book out again and again and watch from a portal window…don’t let reality pull you down into winter.

    Reality will try and get you every time. She’s a bitch who ‘mans’ every gate. Push her aside. You’ll be published because you’re amazing.

    Btw, I’m bookless. Can I read the Swan Harp?

  6. It’s a pity she didn’t see the merit in your work. It’s not easy getting agents. I know an author with 4 published mystery novels who still can’t get an agent to consider her work. Fortunately, Turnstone Press has faithfully published her newest work, a fantasy tale set in ancient Greece, as well as her previous books. I’m sure you will be able to find a publisher, too, even though agents in Canada are as rare as a snowball in summer!

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