The rejection arrived less than a week later.
I have approached a total twelve literary agents this year. In the previous two years, I approached 21 (just for this novel, you understand). Of the 33 total, only 18 bothered to reply, all with bog-standard rejections, their emails almost identical (do they learn how to write these at Literary Agent School?) I’ve run out of agents in the UK who don’t sneer at fantasy. Sadly, my novel (or proposed series of novels) isn’t really Big Fantasy, which makes it even harder. It’s set in the modern world. The magical realm is separate and reached by what is traditionally called a portal (like Narnia). There’s a bit of magic in our world but not much. It’s very character-driven and heavy on relationship building. There are a large number of strong female characters.
Is this all so unappealing?
It’s been over two and a half years since I approached the first agent. I’ve already written the second in the series, though haven’t edited it yet. I had hoped to write the third this year but it has begun to dawn on me that I probably won’t get to it. A year that I had greatly looked forward to, filled with exciting projects, has been crushed by so many outside factors that I can barely get up in the morning. I hardly need mention the pandemic. Then there’s the realisation that I no longer feel able to work in my Real World job. And on top of that, I’ve just been told I may have to have an eye operation for a possible torn retina.
I mean, fuck. How do I respond to this? I don’t know how to keep going. The two efforts I’ve made this year at actual writing have produced absolute rubbish. The immense amount of editing I have to do (which I usually enjoy) has been left to gather dust because I haven’t got the energy, crushed as I am by the events of 2020, not just globally but in my life. I may have felt a smidgen of hope recently, when I got into gear and approached the US agent and did a whole bunch of other “writing career” stuff but the eye operation threat has destroyed it all. There I was, trying to remain positive, trying to stay busy and productive, making an effort, DOING something, when I got steamrollered. And it was a big steamroller.
I recently tweeted:
I'm not sure I can do this writing thing anymore. I've been trying to find an agent for over thirty years now. I've been trying to get people to read my books for a decade. Nothing I do works. I am a droplet lost in a tidal wave.
I didn’t expect much of a response, the word “droplet” being the clue. But someone replied with this:
I think your years of experience show a resilience and strength that the rest of us aspire to! I was feeling this way for the last couple of weeks... And reading your post makes me feel like such a lightweight. You are truly badass!
Me? A badass? According to Google, this means:
A tough, uncompromising, or intimidating person.
I was quite touched to be viewed this way!
While “perseverance” may be my middle name, the other side of the coin is, I’m afraid to say, total despair. And as for the answer to the question I posed in the title of this blog, I don’t have one. People may admire me for persisting and persevering on a difficult path, but for me, that path just looks like the ashes of my life, with all hope lost, a road that goes forever on and on in a talentless void. And I only keep on walking because I haven’t spotted a turn-off.