Thursday 4th March 2021
Let me be honest with you here. I’m writing this entry over a week later.
Ordinarily, if I’m running behind, I might not write The Climb, but I’ll at least make notes. In this case, I haven’t been able to even think about this day for an entire week.
Behind the scenes, a LOT has been going on!
Over a year ago, I turned in a draft of Black As Knight. This one was leaner and incorporated a few other suggestions from my agent. The feedback was that perhaps I’d stripped it back a bit too much and not enough putting the character through the wringer. The feeling was to maybe go onto something new.
I had a beta reader friend who now worked in publishing and loved the novel. I had a chat with them and they suggested an easy way to fix all these problems.
I rewrote that novel in four weeks over the summer. The agent loved the changes and we sent it out to market in September.
Because of the nature of being on submission, I didn’t really blog about this. I mean, if you go back and read The Climb, it’s all there, but I like to keep ongoing commercial discussions off the blog.
The industry is in a weird place right now. It probably wasn’t the best time to try and sell a novel… but then when is?
A number of publishers were in the process of restructuring, and some others were slow to reject but did so full of positive comments. I can apparently write.
We had one that was interested, but they weren’t buying any more books until 2021. By this time it was around November, and we were still waiting to hear back from some. So we waited and followed up in January.
I slowly watched it going from a single editor to wider reads to acquisition. A few published writer friends kept checking in with me, saying the speed of things must be torture. It was. Good advice says when you have a book on submission, you should go and work on something new. Let me say that it’s near impossible.
Whilst the few people around me who knew what was going on felt extremely positive (all publishing professionals), I have to say that I remained wary. Publishing can fuck you when you least expect it. It’s not that people are horrible. Far from it. It’s just it’s a business, and well… shit happens. You can moan about it, but those are the rules of the game if you want to publish traditionally.
So part of me shouldn’t have felt surprised when it got blocked by acquisitions. They have their reasons, and I’ll be honest and say I don’t agree. But it’s their money, their choice.
I was heartbroken, exhausted and angry (although at no one in particular). I still am in some ways. I cannot explain the depth of emotion I feel about it all. I felt I could lash out verbally and say something stupid I didn’t really mean, so I’ve just taken myself off social media for the last week. I’ve worked so fucking hard on that book, I need to give myself a bit of time. As stupid as it sounds, I feel I’ve failed that book.
I have lots of other story ideas. I have lots of first drafts. But Black As Knight is something special. I’ve always felt that. Everything else… feels somehow less.
Sure it will pass. The book is put aside, not trunked. I’m sure I’ll come back to it in years ahead.
But I feel at the bottom of the mountain again. I feel all that work has been for nothing. I feel I’ve wasted time. I feel the march of time, and ask myself if I was any good, wouldn’t I have something to show for it by now?
I’m telling myself that the next book will get a 7 figure advance, sell thru in pre-order and win a Hugo.
I’ve got a load of work ahead of me, but I need to first sit back, take stock, and deconstruct before I can rebuild.
I want to end this by saying “And eat a shit ton of Ice cream” but honestly, that feels more upbeat than I currently feel a week on. Eating ice cream won’t fix this shit. I’m pissed. At what, I really don’t know. Me? The world? Shit, do I even want to keep on writing? Just don’t give me any fucking “light breaking through the clouds” bullshit. I’m deep in the well of despair, and I like it here.
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