Monday, November 01, 2010

The bumpy road...

This morning as I waited for my computer to boot up, I picked up a folder from my bookshelf, curious and wanting to pass the time. Turned out, the folder was actually my rejection collection – a history of my failures in the nineties.

And in case there are any aspiring writers cruising past my blog, I thought I'd record those rejections here, in the hope that you don’t slit your wrists just yet, but keep on trying…
This is why I say we all need to serve an apprenticeship…

1. Jan 12 1994 – Mills and Boon rejection for Impossible Dreamyou tended to develop the minor characters and background details at the expense of the hero and heroine

2. May 4th 1994 – Mills and Boon rejection for Love’s Sentinelthe feeling was that the grounds for conflict between the hero and the heroine weren’t sufficiently developed to generate the extra edge of emotional tension and urgency our readers expect.

3. September 22nd 1994 – Mills and Boon rejection for Aflame – no helpful advice, just a flat no thanks.

4. November 7th 1994 – a letter from Robert Hale thanking me for my enquiry and informing me that they will no longer be publishing Rainbow Romances.

5. November 28th 1994 – Silhouette Books rejected Impossible Dream. (Unfortunately silhouette Books do not traditionally publish stories with a musical backdrop)

6. August 25th 1995 – Mills and Boon rejection for Apprentice Parentslacked the extra degree of emotional punch and excitement for which we look.

7. The Emma Darcy Award 1995 – I’m advised that I was one of 19 entries that made it through to the second reading.

8. November 1996 – Mills and Boon – a letter advising me that having read my synopsis they would now like to read my first three chapters and a synopsis of the rest of the book.

9. April 19th 1997 – Woman’s Day – short story rejection.

10. April 16th 1997 – letter from RWA with a critique of my unsuccessful entry in the Valentine’s Day competition.

11. May 17th 1997 – notification of lack of success in Emma Darcy competition

12. June 12th 1997 – Success at last!! Acceptance of a short story from Woman’s Day.

13. August 18th 1997 – another success! 3rd place in The Opening Chapter and Synopsis competition.

14. August 19th 1997 – getting closer. A Mills and Boon editor liked the first three chapters of Dearly Deceived and requested the rest of the story. She also gave me three pages of revision notes. I would seriously recommend that you try to rework your story with the above comments in mind. You bet!

15. March 13th 1998: The Call! – the phone call from Richmond that changed my life. My husband in the kitchen, where we're preparing tea, handing me the phone, eyes round with excitement: 'It's for you and she's got an English accent!'


2paw said...

It is an honour roll of progress towards success!! I have read you have to do a task for 10,000 hours before you are an success, or an expert. There's rarely an overnight success!! It must give you a nice feeling to remember the way you worked so hard to achieve your goal.

Lacey Devlin said...

Good lordy 10,000 hours!

Thanks for posting these :)

Unknown said...

You're such a fabulous role model Barb! Thanks for putting this up - I am beginning to see how correct you are about the apprenticeship ; )

Anne said...

Great post, Barb. We had a few similarities there. I also had the "Lacks that extra degree of emotional punch for which we are looking" and I was also in the 19 entries of the Emma Darcy comp that had a second reading. Didn't place in that comp, but HM&B bought the story.

Barbara Samuel once said something I took to heart about rejection letters: she said that they often showed you (albeit indirectly) your strengths.

My rejections for category romance (as well as the insufficient emotional punch) invariably said I had too much background detail and the minor characters detracted from the hero and heroine.
Now I write longer, bigger books and people say they love my background detail and my minor characters. So rejections can sometimes point you onto a path that suits you better.

Barbara Hannay said...

Great advice about finding your strengths inside the rejection comments, Anne. I'd never looked at it that way before. there was never a clear pattern in mine. :)

Painful though it sounds, I certainly heard the advice about 10,000 hours. I'm sure most professional artists (whether they're writers or painters or musicians) would agree.

Mind you, some of that is dreaming time...:)

Phillipa said...

Thnaks for the post, Barbara - I haven't done 10,000 hour yet but I sure need to. Maybe other types of writing count towards the total but I doubt it.

BTw I saw you on Jenny Haddon's blog and by coincidence, I'd just seen the uber-cool cover for your Blind Date anthology with Fiona Harper.

The cover is *fantastic* and I've read that story about Theo. I am green with envy about that cover.. a great move by HMB, IMHO.

Barbara Hannay said...

Lovely to hear from you, Phillipa. From what I've read of your books, you've accomplished amazing things -- so the training's happened somehow, somewhere... or maybe it's pure talent.
The cover is seriously gorgeous, isn't it? I've decided I should share it here.