Hello world!

This writing caper sure is a rollercoaster ride. Dizzying ups, such as the buzz of creating a new story, getting some positive feedback, an acceptance, a good review, an invite to speak at a festival or a gorgeous letter from a fan; followed by screaming, white-knuckled downs, such as a story that just won’t behave, getting some negative feedback, a rejection, a bad review, not getting an invite to speak at a festival, or a letter pointing out a terrible typo or plot flaw.

It’s all part of the business and something that we have to deal with.

I had an email from my agent last week that was one of those “I have some good news … and some bad news” types.

The good news was that she really liked my picture book manuscript. (Yay! Happy dancing round the kitchen.) And we are now having a conversation about what our next steps should be.

The bad news was that she wasn’t so keen on my new middle grade novel. (Just to clarify: this is the novel that I have been writing this year, not the one I wrote last year – MISSING – which I have been blogging about and will be published in 2018 by Walker Books. To avoid confusion, I will call this “new” work CD.)

So the upshot of the email was that CD needs more development. There was plenty she liked about it, but she felt that it wasn’t there yet and that I should put it to one side for a bit, let it simmer away and develop slowly, while I get busy on some other projects.


Sigh …

Deep breathe …


Of course, I’m disappointed. I LOVE these characters. I ADORE their world. I BELIEVE in this story. And I want nothing more than for everyone else on the entire planet to love and adore and believe in CD as much as I do. Starting with my agent.

But to be honest, I get it. Deep down, I know that it’s not ready – that it needs something more. My biggest worry at the moment is that I just don’t know WHAT or HOW. For the first time in a long while, I have drawn a blank and really have no solid ideas on how to develop this work.

So what am I going to do? Well, I’m going to put it on the back burner for a bit – as suggested – and get on with my other projects. (Good advice actually.) Hopefully a bit of distance will give me some fresh perspective. And hopefully my subconscious will work hard in the background while I concentrate on my other projects and come up with a brilliant solution. (One lives in hope, always.) In a few months, I will probably seek out some beta readers. Maybe some child readers. I may even throw all the pages up in the air and see where they fall – i.e. come at the story with a totally different approach.

But one thing I won’t do is to put CD in my bottom drawer and let it gather dust. That wouldn’t be right. That’s not being true to myself or my work. I figure if I really believe in these characters and their story, I need to put my disappointments aside, and find a way to make CD shine.

In the meantime, I am going to put FIX YOU by Coldplay on repeat – thanks to an unrelated Facebook exchange with author and buddy Meg McKinlay – and I am going to take a long walk.

And maybe kick a few buckets.


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  1. I love this honest piece about how great and how hard writing can be. Thank you.

  2. Fabulous advice, Sue! Keeping the fire alive for a loved work-in-progress is good for the writing soul, and stories are all the better eventually, after being through that fire. ?

  3. Rebecca Sheraton on said:

    So true. I’ve learned the value of te away and it does somehow give you the breathing space to figure out what to do with it. Hope the rewrites come easily when you come back with fresh eyes and have fun O your new project.

  4. Jocelyn Hawes on said:

    Last month I had three short plays and one short story rejected. Life is tough. Rewriting??. I sometimes wonder if that is the answer.

    I can empathize with you.

    I think now that the first lot of pain has gone that I’ll rewrite one of the plays and turn it into a full length one. As I believe my plot has a wider potential.

    • HI Jocelyn. Rejection is so tough. But I think the key is to let “the first lot of pain” go – as you say. Then it is easier to be objective and make the decision about whether or not reworking is the answer. Good luck with your rewrite!

  5. Great post. Love the honesty. I’ve had three rejections this week and one made my heart sing. I was super close. That’s all I needed to hear. I’m getting closer. Thank you for posting.

  6. My poor teddy bear has lost several of his singlets after similar frustrating bouts of bad news, Sue. I keep promising myself to focus less on ripping them off him and more on the work needing more work. Alas, sometimes it’s just easier to buy him a new one. 😛 But, like you, I take heart from the disappointments as well and attempt to funnel them into fix-it (pardon the pun) solutions. Life is nothing if not without challenges! Yours in appreciation, Dim x

  7. Jodi on said:

    So honest, open and inspiring. Thank you, Sue! Writing is an absolute rollercoaster, that’s for sure. I’ve hidden my rejections in the bottom drawer and proceeded to slink away into the shadows, not putting pen to paper for ten years after because I felt ashamed and totally out of my league. No one wants to hear that their hard work might not be good enough, but I’m a big believer in the word “YET”. It might not be ready “yet”, but watch this space! I’m wondering if submitting things early might sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

  8. If I nodded any more my head would fall off! Thanks for sharing this. It’s good to reminded that disappointment is actually a positive part of the process even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

  9. Hi Sue,

    We haven’t met but I hope to listen to you at Writers’ Unleashed in August. I was so excited to find your blog and to read this post. Thank you for sharing the reality behind the dream…yes, it can be HARD and GOOD, right? And like Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.” I’m so impressed with your beautiful voice here and I’m intrigued to read your YA work. Thank you for posting this encouragement to us all. (Not an advertisement for me at all, but just so you know where I’m coming from…I write fiction and I have a happiness blog. Part of my journey is to give something back to people, like you’ve done for all of us here. Thank you. You really supported me today in my work!)

    • Hello Catherine. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and lovely words – you have given me great support today also! Please make sure you come over and say hi at Writer’s Unleashed – I would love to meet you. All the best for your fiction and blog writing!