Overcoming Rejection as a Writer
Having recently finished reading the magnificent Mirror & the Light I was reminded of a fairy story I composed back in 2015 for my writing group blog. At the time I was daunted by the brilliance of Wolf Hall and struggling not to be downcast by rejections of my own attempts at historical fiction.
The Fairy Dogmother
You are at the kitchen table, drooping over yet another rejected story. Ruby, the cocker spaniel, looks expectant, head twitching and nose up. Then the door bell rings. She must have sensed a visitor. Anyway, she's at the door ahead of you.
'Hi, Ruby! Here I am, as promised.'
The visitor sweeps past you into the kitchen while you remain, frozen, on the doormat. That can't be Hilary Mantel, can it? Are you going to faint? Wake up from a dream? And how does this world-renowned and respected writer know your dog?
By now Hilary is in the kitchen. She picks up your crumpled story, unearths a pencil from her designer bag and begins scribbling on it.
'Just get me a coffee,' she says, giving Ruby an absent-minded pat. 'Instant will do, but make it as strong as you can.'
You are almost catatonic as you switch on the kettle. This incredible writer is sitting at your kitchen table, biting savagely at the end of her pencil and working her way through your story. How did this happen? You've nearly lost control of your bodily functions. The power of speech is certainly beyond you.
'Right.' She drops the pencil back in her bag and grabs the coffee mug from you before it crashes to the ground. 'It wasn't a bad story,' she says, knocking back the Gold Blend in a single gulp. 'Just needed a few tweaks. My first drafts of Wolf Hall were utter crap, believe me.'
She shoves the crumpled draft and the empty mug at you and heads for the door, Ruby at her heels. Then she is gone, in a flash. You stare down the street. No sign of of the woman. And there is not even a car or a taxi in sight. Yet the story is in your hands and has pencilled comments all over it.
You look up to see Ruby scampering down the path towards the back garden through a shaft of sunlight - her flapping ears magnified by a trick of the light into giant golden fairy wings.
Okay, you were warned it was a fairy story - but wouldn't we all agree that any writing of ours rewritten by someone like Hilary Mantel would become fabulous? Nothing we create with love is without hope. It just needs a bit (maybe a lot) more editing. So do persevere - and keep a sense of humour at all times.
With apologies, of course, to Ms Mantel for taking liberties...