The Fairy Dogmother - A Lesson For Writers About Rejection
You are at the kitchen table, drooping over yet another rejected story. In her basket Ruby, the cocker spaniel, looks expectant, head twitching and nose up. Then the door bell rings. The dog must have sensed a visitor. Anyway, she's leaping for the door ahead of you.
'Hi, Ruby! I've come, as promised.'
The visitor sweeps past you into the kitchen while you remain, frozen, on the doormat.
That is Hilary bloody Mantel, isn't it? Are you going to screech? Faint? Wake up from a dream? And how does this world-renowned author know your dog's name?
By now Hilary is in the kitchen, draping her scarlet woolen wrap over a chair. She picks up your crumpled story, unearths a pencil from her bag, sits down, and starts scribbling all over it.
'Just make me a coffee,' she says, giving Ruby an absent-minded pat. 'Instant will be fine, but make it strong.'
You are in a trance as you boil the kettle. This hugely talented writer is sitting at your kitchen table, biting savagely at the end of her pencil and working her way through your pathetic story. How did this happen? You've nearly lost control of your bodily functions. The power of speech is certainly beyond you.
'Right.' She throws the pencil back into her bag and grabs the coffee mug before you spill the contents all over her. 'That wasn't all bad,' she says, knocking the Gold Blend back in a gulp. 'But it did need serious tweaking. Nothing wrong with that, though. My first drafts of Wolf Hall were utter crap, believe me.'
She hands back the empty mug, scoops up her wrap and heads for the door, Ruby at her heels. Then she is gone, in a flash. You stare down the street. No sign of her. There is not even a car or taxi in sight.
Ruby scampers round the side of the house towards the garden through a shaft of sunlight, her flapping ears magnified by a trick of light into giant golden fairy wings.
With my profound apologies to Ms Mantel.
Okay - you must have guessed from the title that this was a fairy story - BUT wouldn't we all agree that any story of ours rewritten by someone like Hilary Mantel would turn into something fabulous? The lesson is that no story is without hope. We just have to persist with the editing and rewriting until we get it right. And who knows, Hilary Mantel may even come knocking at our door to give us a helping hand.