Jessica Patient

Creative writing tutors always say, usually jabbing their finger into the air, ‘you need a thick skin,’ and it is true.

You would think that someone like me who is sensitive and scared of adverts for horror movies shouldn’t submit their work because the rejections would send me into the corner, crying, hugging my blanket.

There have been points where I have cried over rejections.

Some rejections have been hardcore horrible and have made me want to sell my laptop on eBay and hide my collection of creative writing books in the loft.

I have toughened up since receiving my first rejection, back when I was at university and I thought getting a First for a short story automatically meant publishable.

My first rejections were for short stories. I sent them out; full of excitement and some came back with rejections.

With the help of those rejections, I no longer feel emotional over standard rejection letters. They are quite easy to spot as they are very general and they may even leave ‘Insert Name’ in the ‘Dear’ line.

The hardest rejections have been for my novel.

I have been dedicated to writing and redrafting this novel for four years.

It felt like someone was bullying my baby.

I have had standard rejections, 'The Silence' (you never get a response), attached files go missing even though they were acknowledged and envelopes returned.

But I have been lucky and I have had some great feedback too with lots of great advice. Those are the rejections that I have appreciated the most. These sorts of rejections have helped me improve my story and given me advice. I even made it as far as sending the next ten chapters to one agency.

In the past year, I have had very contradicting advice from two different agents.

One loved the characters and the voice but wasn't too keen on part of the plot. The agent asked for me to make changes to the plot. I made the changes to the areas where I thought it needed changing as I didn't fully agree about the plot but ultimately they wanted BIGGER changes.

The other agent said that they liked the plot but not the voice. So what do I do? Whose advice should I take? Are they either right or both wrong? If only I could those two agents together and then I would have an agent who would want it.

It’s easy to rush, make the amendments, and send it back within a few days. Trust me, I have done it. But the best thing to do is to absorb those comments, give yourself some time to think about it and then make the amendments if you agree with them.

And remember that the comments are subjective. I now have a mantra when I see the ‘unfortunately’ in a rejection letter – in my head I say ‘it’s only subjective’ again and again.

I'm not the sort of person who gives up easily. I am not going to let this beat me. In those four years, my writing has evolved. I need to write something new that reflects this. I could move onto my 11th draft but I think I need something new. I don't want this novel becoming 'the never-ending story.'

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