There are some things in life that nobody tells you, which perhaps is a good thing because if they did, you wouldn’t do those things, like say, giving birth. Nobody tells you how much it’s going to hurt, even though you’ve sat through whole days of classes and birth videos you’ve watched with one eye closed, read enough pamphlets to wallpaper the Albert Hall and chosen your favourite music to deliver by. They just don’t tell you about the pain.
It’s exactly the same with writing classes and rejection. They mention it, they tell you not to take it personally but they won’t even begin to touch on how it will feel – so let’s not go there. I was lucky with my first submission, I didn’t have to wait long for it to be rejected. And it hurt but not enough to stop me from writing something else and rewriting that first submission, when I could bring myself to look at it again.
But sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the story – you’ve just sent it to the wrong market. That first short story I wrote was a boomerang, it went out and it came back, again and again and again. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of writing for the market when I wrote it. I had that first burst of inspiration and away I went, so it had everything – a love interest, a ghost, a murder, a dream sequence and a heroine who liked gardening. I quickly learnt to research short story markets and one rainy afternoon in a large branch of a national newsagents I was rewarded, I found a women’s magazine, fresh on the market, with a story about fairies in a compost heap. Could it be possible my boomerang had found its home. I sent it off and to paraphrase Jane Austen and Rolf Harris – “Reader, my boomerang didn’t come back!”
What I learnt? Don’t throw anything away, don’t despair, keep researching and writing – oh yeah, and rewriting.