Monday, 14 November 2011

A ratio of failures.




"A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason." -Margaret Atwood


The past week is probably best defined as “the week of lovely rejection.”  As much as you tell yourself that rejection is the rule, and acceptance is the exception, blah blah blah, it’s still annoying to wake up to an inbox full of template forms telling you that they liked your work (lies) but that it doesn’t stylistically fit their aesthetic (softening the blow), and signing off with wishes of luck in placing it elsewhere (good luck with THAT!) and a “but please send more!” (more lies).  The bits in parentheses, of course, may be neurotic fretting rather than fact, but still, getting rejected is shite. (Although this site did make me feel better)

This week, however, several journals sent personal, constructive replies; The Red Penny Papers standing out as being particularly "lovely" as they took the time to explain their selection process and were completely complimentary and encouraging along the way...whilst tearing my literary dreams to shreds, of course. Kind of like getting a lollipop when somebody’s wrenching your stitches out; but one that really did sweeten the process. Melodrama aside, I have noticed a new steeliness creeping in with regards to rejection; and whereas before I’d want to drink vodka and sob and eat jumbo bags of wotsits and delete my entire hardrive of the drivel that’s filling it up, before it can violate any other editor’s poor eyes, I now critically assess what can be altered, and search the market more extensively, to make sure that if I submit it again it's going where it fits in, stylistically or otherwise. Which can only be a good thing.

Aside from the rejections, I had a flash fiction piece short-listed for a competition, and got the first proof and glimpse of the cover for the upcoming Spilling Ink Anthology that features a short story of mine. This book will be available on Amazon.  I say that calmly, now, but the thought of it makes me ridiculously over-excited, as for some reason it seems that having something on Amazon is the ultimate validation for days spent slumped at the computer.  I'm sure it will wear off.  Although maybe not before Christmas, where every lucky family member will get a copy instead of fancy chocolate or Baileys or bubble bath from Boots.  Joy and peace to all. 
The preparation for publication also gave me another chance to practise the requisite third person bio that editors insist upon, and that I seem to find near impossible. Sum yourself up in 50 words, and be interesting, without making yourself sound like a dick. Nicola Belte lives in Birmingham. Thrilling.  Nicola Belte likes Victorian teapots and collects postcards of freaks. Woo, how quirky am I?! Nicola Belte works as a barmaid while waiting for the world to acknowledge her literary might. Pretentious idiot. It's...tricky.

Right, to press on then in the hope of procuring more “lovely rejections.”  I’m currently working on about five different stories, which hopefully will be up on here soon, and are maybe best summed up by my google history of the past few days: furry fandom, Japanese girls names, 12 step programmes, sword swallowing, obesity, senile dementia, mammoths, Tyburn tree, Roman emperors, yeti slippers. 

Fingers crossed.


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