Back to Earth with a Bump


Don’t tell my own dogs (they’re prone to jealousy) but I made a new pal, Lucky.

This time last week I was in Switzerland and I was literally sky-high. The trip to Zermatt was for my hubby’s special birthday last month. He wanted to see the Matterhorn up close and as we had to fly to Geneva, it made sense to also see the city rather than just the airport.

The holiday exceeded our expectations on every level and the highlight was taking a helicopter flight to the tip of the Matterhorn. But this blog isn’t a travelogue although it is my way of sharing ideas and images that inspire my writing. Of course, waking up with a view of the Matterhorn is exciting and taking a cruise on Lake Geneva was lovely but the things that stood out for me weren’t always on the obvious tourist route.


I LOVED the shutters down this side street in Geneva above a ‘lively’ bar full of just as colourful characters!

I love people watching and as the cost of food and drink was so expensive, we often ate a pastry or sandwich on a park bench. This gave me the chance to indulge in my favourite sport of people watching and it was fascinating.  Jeezo, the sights you see when you haven’t got a gun!

If I wanted to write about Switzerland, I could’ve used Google to zoom in on a scene but there’s no way that it’s the same as actually visiting a place and experiencing not just the sights but the sounds, smells, tastes and the feel of the snow under foot. The trip was amazing but when I landed back at Edinburgh airport and fired up my mobile my bubble was well and truly burst.

imagesWaiting for me, was an email from the literary agent I’d had a relationship with a few years ago. I’d sent her my latest novel in the hope that she’d be keen to represent me again. I quickly scanned through the praise, “the voice is very impressive” and “the novel is strong” to reach the punchline…”the hard truth is I don’t think this is commercial enough for me”. Not the best welcome home!

I unpacked my suitcase, loaded up the washing machine and kept busy to stop myself from wallowing and it helped to read Isabel’s Costello’s excellent blog post, Coping with Rejection. Isabel and I have long accepted that rejection is part of the process on the quest to be published and although it hurts to be knocked down, we both always bounce back.


No quitter!

So now my next move is to find an agent and publisher who believe in my novel as much as I do! And there’s always examples like Eimear McBride’s debut being rejected by publishers for almost a decade but it beat the Pulitzer Prize-winning Donna Tartt to the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction to keep me motivated, so there’s hope for me yet…

How do you cope with rejection? Do you find it hard to keep the faith?




19 thoughts on “Back to Earth with a Bump

  1. LOL your comment: ‘the sights you see when you haven’t got a gun!’ Ironic considering Swiss citizens are allowed to carry them! & remember Bruce & the spider – if at first you don’t succeed. .. Writers paper their walls with rejection letters – there are lots of small presses that are willing to take on good writing that is not necessarily ‘commercial’. Keep going!!

    • Hi Marie, Glad my post made you smile and thanks for the encouraging words. I’m up for the challenge of finding a new agent/publisher so fingers crossed that I won’t need to find a fresh wall to paper with rejections. 🙂

  2. Hi Helen,

    Glad you enjoyed Switzerland – it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Sorry you came home to such a bad news, but you’re right about how to deal with rejection. Isabel has it totally right in her post, that you just have to shake yourself off and carry on.

    Good luck with it. I’ll keep watching the blog for updates!

  3. Hi Helen
    Thanks so much for the mention – I’m glad my post (itself the product of much rejection!) came at the right moment for you, although sorry you needed it. It must have been very disappointing to get that response but it’s only one person’s opinion and doesn’t mean it won’t be loved by someone else. Keep going – I have a strong feeling we will both get there in the end. We’re far too stubborn to give up!

    • Hi Isabel,

      Yes, I feel we share the same tenacious streak that keeps us from letting rejection knock us to the point that we stay down. As you say, it’s a very subjective business and I’ll just have to hope that I find the right person to champion my work. We will indeed get there in the end!!! 🙂

  4. Yes, precisely. Go Isabel! And keep sending it out! You’ve just got to find that person who is on your wavelength. In my case it’s like throwing nails at a tree and hoping one sticks. And don’t give up! Isn’t it horrible how a brilliant high like your trip to Switzerland always seems to be followed by a horrible low. It’s always happening to me.

    • Hi, thanks for your positive thoughts and understanding of how hard it is to get anywhere in the fickle world of publishing. I’m a determined type so will keep going for as long as it takes! 🙂

  5. Ah! Doing the washing will always be with us when we need it … I loved [the other] Isabel’s post too. There isn’t a writer alive who has all work accepted everywhere first time. And can you imagine how irritating they would be to meet? Keep going, keep believing. You’ve got us cheering for you.

    • Thanks Isabel. I’m lucky to have the support of yourself, the other Isabel, Josephine and others via Twitter that helps to keep me motivated. It’s much appreciated. And yes, who wants to know an instant success? 😉

  6. Aw Helen, big hugs. Rejection is through and through horrid. Takes me a long time to lick my wounds, so I do sympathise. You know all the facts – keep submitting, etc. But it doesn’t help in those first few hours / days, does it? You can’t help getting your hopes up. Until you can see it for what it is – one person’s opinion – I advise a lot of stiff drink, tissues and blanket, and a cat/dog. Know that one day you’ll look back with a wry smile.

  7. Hi Helen, Of course as someone who was still living there last year I was thrilled to get this post about Switzerland. Zermatt is wonderful and the Matterhorn indescribable. I’m so glad you had a wonderful trip with your husband. But obviously, what a blow to receive when you returned home. I have had my share of rejection (and it keeps coming) as well. I usually feel really badly for a day or so, and then I get back to it. It’s not at all easy, though. You know I’m in your corner, today and always.

    • Hi Kristin, I’d forgotten that you recently lived in Switzerland and should’ve asked you for recommendations. We had a brilliant time and came home with lots of happy memories and that helped to soften the blow of the rejection. Thanks for your support, it makes a big difference to have encouragement from other writers like yourself who understand the highs and lows. x

  8. Just to reiterate everyone else’s thoughts – keep going, I believe very strongly in your recent novel (even though I haven’t seen any of it) and I just know that someone out there is waiting for it to land on their desk. You’re a constant source of motivation for me. Go you, it’s just a matter of time x

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