Stepping through the front door after work today, I spotted sitting behind it the self-addressed envelope I sent out in April, which I sent to my first literary agent since my rejection streak of 2005.
I never received the confirmation postcard I sent to them along with the letter, and I was starting to suspect the demons who live at the Post Office might have eaten either it or the letter. Turns out they just didn’t take the two minutes to put it back in their post pile. So that was a nice waste of 36p of a stamp and however much the postcard was. But the important thing — I suppose — is that they got it.
I picked up the letter. Not much weight to it, which tells it all, really. I would say my hands were trembling and my heart was pounding in my chest as I ripped the envelope open, but that would be a huge lie. Already feeling suitably downtrodden, I opened it with a sigh and a brush of overwhelming pessimism before opening it up to read the pre-printed letter saying that they, regrettably, do not have the confidence to represent my work. Which, to me, is just a nice way of saying: ‘Yeah, we think this is shit, now fuck off. Bye!’
On the upside, they did spell my name right.
I am taking some solace in the fact that part of their submission guidelines advised to expect four weeks for a response, and this took closer to eight; I’m going to imagine that this was because they were fiercely torn and desperately wanted to take my book, but, due to some reason — let’s say the financial instability of the company — they decided it was better, for my benefit, not to. I’m not going to steer towards what is more likely the truth, that the delay is down to the fact that they have received an unusually large influx of weak submissions lately that they’ve had to sift through before reaching my own creation of suckiness.
So anyway, they’ve said ‘No’, and it fells like a kick in the balls, or at least, I would imagine it is, since I don’t actually possess balls of my own.
I suppose it’s not all bad, really. In the time since I sent the submission in the first place, I’ve thought about my options. Traditional publishing would be nice, sure, but nowadays, what chance have I got…really? I think I mentioned a while back about the quality of others’ work that I’ve come across — sometimes inadvertently — online. These people are in the same position as I am, and yet their work seems leaps and bounds beyond the best that I’m capable of doing.
The people who have read my work — family and close friends excluded — have had nice things to say about it, but since it’s been systematically rejected — in all its manifestations — for the last seven years by professionals, I have to consider the prospect that it’s just not considered a marketable product.
And then I have to sit back and think what exactly it is I want out of my writing. With every day that passes, I reach closer to the realisation that I may never become a published author. And at the end of the day, that’s never what it’s been about. Not for me. I just enjoy writing, creating characters and entirely new worlds for them to run around in, swearing and fighting and generally getting into mischief.
Going forwards, since the traditional route is falling further and further away, I think I’m going to go down the self-publishing route, at least in the foreseeable future. If anyone buys and reads it (and hopefully enjoys it!), great, and if not, fuck them, and I’ll keep writing regardless.