Never Say Never

I don’t want to believe that my latest novel will never be published. Never is a strong word. But it’s a word that I might have to accept. This time last year, I was editing my novel after receiving feedback from two trusted readers and established writers. Both gave me constructive criticism and I spent another couple of months taking it on board and editing my novel, again and again.

By April, I was ready to submit my novel to literary agents and the few publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. I’ve been through this process before so I was aware of how difficult it was to secure a publishing deal, especially for a novel using Scots dialect which might only appeal to a niche market. I braced myself for rejections and sure enough I got several knockbacks, and most didn’t even bother to reply.

Some of the feedback softened the edge of the rejection, “I was very impressed by your writing…” Although there was always a BUT and ultimately, no matter how nicely worded, the emails ended in a rejection.

I’ve tried my very best to find a publisher as passionate about my novel as I am, but I’ve reached the point where my optimism has run out. Last week, I made a final attempt to attract interest by taking part in the #XpoNorth Twitter pitch event where writers tweet about their novel in the hope of hooking an agent or publisher. I got ‘likes’ from potential readers but not even a nibble from anyone in the industry. In some ways it gave me a sense of closure, at least for now.

The highlight of my research trip to St Petersburg.

Committing to writing a novel is a huge investment of time and effort. I spent two years reading, researching (including a trip to Russia!) and writing about characters and a story I wanted to share. The stakes were high, and I poured my heart and soul into this novel although on this bet the gamble hasn’t paid off.

What am I writing now? The answer is nothing. Writing a novel is a massive undertaking and you need to really want to tell the story so badly that you’re prepared to spend many months tapping away on your laptop with no guarantee of it ever being read.

Right now, I don’t have an idea for a novel that is strong enough for me to risk using up all that energy. I’ve only got so much to give on every level and time is precious. I still hope to be invited to deliver creative writing workshops and speak about my novel and my writing ‘journey’ but for now I’m a writer who isn’t writing.

Filling the void isn’t hard. I’ve always loved art and for the last couple of years I’ve been going to life drawing classes. I’m loving getting back into drawing. This creative outlet is my main focus at the moment and will maybe give me timeout to let writing ideas simmer in the background.

I’ve also got a grandson due to make his appearance in the world at the end of March and I want to have lots of time to spend getting to know him, rather than being bent over a keyboard.

8 thoughts on “Never Say Never

  1. Don’t lose heart Helen, you’re a wonderful writer and your book will find its rightful space for sure. At least you’re getting replies, I seem to have been doing all the same things, to the same timeframe as you, with my second novel and I’ve never even had a response from anyone 😁 (expect one agent, immediately by return, who said the subject matter wasn’t something that interested them). It’s easy to feel down about it and there are moments of real doubt but at the end of the day remember it is your story and you wrote it because you were compelled to do so. The audience will catch up eventually! Sounds like you’ve got lots of lovely things to keep you going in the meantime x

  2. Maybe it was time for a break? Submitting to agents is tough. I got the same from two indie publishers – we love the book, great plot, great characters BUT… – and it is frustrating. Instead I’ve done it myself and it has got some nice comments from readers which is what I wanted really. But don’t give up entirely. The right idea will come along. In the meantime, I shall just enjoy your art!

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