Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Seven (or eight) Stages of Writer's Grief...

I came back home from my holidays to receive some free books – more of which anon – and a couple of rejections. Such is a writer’s life. You’d think you’d get used to it, but NO, each one takes a day or two to convalesce. During that time it’s like recovering from being dumped. You know how it is, you drag your feet, your heart is like a stone in your chest and you think you’ll never be able to met anyone else (or write another word).

It’s fair to say that you go through the various stages of grief.

Denial – No, not again. No, not having it. This is not happening to me! Is that addressed to me? Is it even my book? They’ve sent it to the wrong person surely. It’s a mix up. They read mine and loved it. Read another and hated it and then they mixed up the responses. Simples. I’ll just send them a polite enquiry. Hey, fuckwit, did you mean to send this to me?

And this leads nicely on to...

Anger – What do these people know? Feckin’ numpties. Couldn’t spot a potential hit if it had BESTSELLER written all over it. Halfwits the lot of ‘em. Bet they were the ones that turned down Rowling. Don’t they recognise I have the readability of King, the lyricism of James Lee Burke, the pace of Dan Brown, the insight of Freud? Can’t they SEE that, or are their heads so far up their own arses they need a torch just so they can brush their teeth? I’ll show them. I’ll fucking show them...

Which brings us rather neatly to...

Bargaining – Right, I’ll send them a letter. No, I’ll phone them. That will show them that I’m serious about my craft. The bastards. Ooops, slipping back into ANGER there. Calm. Breathe. No, better not phone them, sitting there in their fucking ivory towers with their double-barrelled names and their trust funds from mummy and daddy. Oops, with the anger again. Calm. Breathe.

No. I’ll write and ask them what I should do to improve. Ask what needs working on. Plot? Character? Pace? Setting? What else should I do? Should I get myself on TV, would that help? What if I was on I’m A Celebrity Get Me A Brain Cell, I bet that would get me a book deal? What if I shag somebody famous? I know, I’ll get a penis extension and they can film it for a documentary. Nah, not liking that idea. You should never allow a scalpel anywhere near your man junk. I’ll get a boob job. A wee wax and a D cup should do it.

Depression – I bet they wouldn’t go for the boob job. They’ll think it’s a bit lame. They’ll complain that writers are supposed to be hiding behind their desks, not hogging the lime-light. We’re all blushing violets with the marketing skills of a plank of wood and we should speak only when phoned up by The Times. Like that’s ever going to happen.

Why do I bother? Just set myself up for disappointment every time. I should realise I’m a fraud, a fake, a failure and I have all the talent of a pus-filled boil on David Cameron’s arse. (He has got feck all to do with writing, I like to have a go at him every now and again.) I’ll just go and cower under my quilt. I might pop out now and again, wearing baggy shorts, socks up to my knees and a vest that is more holes than vest to eat cornflakes straight from the box with a second course of a bucket of Hagen-Daz ice cream.

Acceptance – Well...that last one was maybe not good enough YET, but I can learn from it, no? I got in a lot of practise and I can read through it and see where it could be improved upon. The feedback from the publisher was a bit vague and contradicted the feedback from the last publisher, which means that really most of them know fuck all and they’re as clueless as the rest of us. Oh for chrissake there I go slipping into anger again.

No, I’m calm.

I’m one more NO closer to a YES. I just have to learn more and practise more and be even better than the guys and gals who are currently being published. My middle name is Nike and I can do it.

That is the accepted seven stages of grief. For writers we should then add another item...

Outrageous Optimism - Actually now that I’ve roused myself sufficiently to begin the next book and after having set aside the 2000 words I wrote a fortnight ago to settle and having just read over them I realise that I’m nothing short of a fucking literary genius. How can they possibly say no? I’m willing to bet my mortgage that EVERYBODY who sees this is going to love it. There’s going to be a bidding war. Publishers will be queuing up to offer ridiculous sums. I’ll knock Katie Price off the gossip mags and I’ve only got tiny tits. I’ll be in all the papers. ITV2 will want to film me as I sit at my desk pretending to blush like a violet. BRING ON THE WORLD. Play the trumpets. Let the lions roar.

The next work of creative brilliance is on its way.


  1. I feel your pain. However, as a short story writer I get a *lot* of rejections so I don't have time to go through all these stages with all of them. I wouldn't have time to do anything else!

  2. That's so true, Helen. But novel writing is where the REAL pain is at. Everything else is for wimps. ~stands back and waits for the brown stuff to hit the fan~

  3. Aw, they don't know what they are talking about. Write them a letter - when you're not angry - and invite them to your blog. Not this one, oh why the hell not?

    Feckin’ numpties? LOL, wish I'd had that for my internet rant yesterday. Eternal optimists - that's the lot of us. Or delusional.

  4. I feel your pain, Michael. I, however, am the eternal optimist. And 20 years (almost to the day) after I completed writing my first novel, my 6th novel was published. Not exactly an overnight success, but proof of the power of positive thinking. (Positive does not equal fast.) I truly embrace Thomas Edison's comment, which I'l paraphrase: I haven't failed; I just found 10,000 ways that don't work. (He has over 1,500 patents to his name. I wonder how that translates to words...)