I received my first rejection for Dragon Wraiths today. I’m quite happy about it. I’ve sent out about a dozen query emails for the novel (did I mention just how long it takes to research an agency, choose the right agent, pitch the query letter as close as possible to what they want and then send it?) and this is the first reply I’ve had. So it was a rejection, so what? Aren’t you meant to get about forty rejections before you’re accepted? So that’s one step nearer.
It reminded me of a bit in Clare Balding’s great autobiography My Animals and Other Family where she and her brother are told a jockey isn’t a real jockey until he’s fallen off his horse a certain amount of times (I think it was sixty but if I go and check I’ll start reading the book again and I already have no idea what I’m writing for today’s Claire post so that will scupper it entirely.) Anyway, the kids keep falling off their horses deliberately, in order to build up to the magic number. Their frustrated mother points out that it doesn’t count if you do it on purpose. I’ve sent out query letters before but I haven’t put my heart and soul into them. This time I’m doing it properly so this is my first genuine rejection. Only 39 to go.
As mentioned above I don’t know what I’m writing about today for my novel. I’ve spent the last twelve hours with two fragile, screaming, over-tired preschoolers, taking them to play with their friends and then going sledging. My nerves are zinging and I’m only fit for bed. So I’m just going to write and see what happens. Apologies if it stinks! I have joined the YHA and am just waiting for my membership card in order to be able to send off for a guide to the hostels. Once that arrives I’ll be able to start my proper research, plan out Claire’s travel route and get on with the novel proper. Until then it’ll probably be another post introducing characters which hopefully won’t be as boring as it sounds.
“Please pass the salt.”
Claire located the salt pot amidst the silverware on the table and handed it to her father. He thanked her without making eye contact and returned to demolishing his lamb roast.
Chewing the slightly over-cooked meat, Claire looked up at her parents’ bowed heads and wondered when they got so grey. And boring. I remember when they used to talk at dinner. Maybe I’m making them feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t a nice thought. Claire was used to not getting a prodigal-son welcome when she came home but the constraint surrounding her at the dinner table that evening was suffocating.
“Kim’s dyed her hair red for a role in a Shakespeare play.”
“Hmmm.” Her mother speared a green bean and put it in her mouth.
“She looks great, like a life-size pixie.”
“Hmmm.” This time it was a baby carrot that felt the fork.
“She’s having her nipple pierced and leaving Jeff for the cleaning lady.”
“Hmmm… I beg your pardon?” Her mother’s face whipped up and she looked at Claire for the first time since they sat at the table.
“Joking. Just wondered if I was actually here.”
“It’s not healthy to talk and eat, it causes you to take in too much air. Your father suffers from heartburn so we have silence at the table.” She spoke the last words pointedly and returned to the massacre of the vegetables.
Sighing quietly, Claire focussed on eating her dinner as swiftly as possible. She had had plenty of time to regret coming to visit her parents in the two days since she’d arrived. She had barely shared three words with her mother and tonight at the dinner table was the first time her father had even appeared. She was shocked to see how old he looked.
Has it really been so long since I visited, or has he been aging in double-time since he retired?
Claire tried to turn her mind away from the mausoleum of the dinner table and think nice thoughts. Her future wasn’t exactly swimming in them. In the morning she had to load her hated rucksack into her loathed old banger and drive 300 miles to stay in a flea-ridden youth hostel. She had taken the decision to invest in a Sat Nav, having found it difficult to even get home to her parents’ house without the inbuilt one in her company Audi. It had taken until an hour ago for her to bring herself to plot in the route to Berwick and she was shocked to find out it was going to take at least five hours to get there when she left in the morning.
Probably six or seven in that stupid car, it only manages seventy-miles-an-hour downhill with the wind behind it. I’m going to have to leave at 5a.m. to get there by dinner time. She looked around the table at the chewing waxwork figures of her parents and gave a tiny shrug. That’s not going to be a hardship. I might not want to go to Berwick but I can’t wait to leave here.
As she tried to get comfortable in the z-bed her mother had deigned to put up for her, claiming the linen in the spare room was in the laundry, Claire mused that at least she’d had some practice sleeping in a lumpy bumpy bed. That was the only prep she had done for the big adventure that was due to start in a mere twenty-four hours.
It’ll be fine, she thought sleepily. I’m good at winging it.
- Rejection! Rejection! Rejection! – Guest Post by AJ Myers (paigenolley.wordpress.com)
- Writing A Query Letter (bittersweetnovel.wordpress.com)