I’ve had many jobs since leaving school. I didn’t become a teacher until I was 35. A wonderful job, I’ve always loved the challenge, the interaction, the opportunity to guide young minds…
But writing. Writing transports me into another world, a world of my own creation. At times of stress or uncertainty, I can ‘run away’ and find solace in my words. Up to a point.
I write better when I am happy. Happiness brings security. Maybe not financial, but certainly emotional. I recall Stephen King saying something similar. For me, certainly, a stress-free environment enables me to focus in on the make-believe. Unhappiness, uncertainty, sadness…none of those help me. The image of the struggling artiste, poring over words in a Garrick, ripping apart his heart-strings to show the world just how awful it all really is…No, none of that is for me.
I write extremely intuitively. Inspiration often leaps out at me, and the most unlooked for moments. Some days I can write without a break, the words flowing as if every sluice gate were open. Other days, I may only put down half a dozen sentences. When I am in that sort of mood, I often go back to previous works that need some re-working and concentrate on those. Indeed, I usually do work on more than one project at a time. For example, as I write this – in late November, 2012 – I have two works either completed, or nearing completion. Two thrillers, Road Kill and Whipped Up. I love them both and can switch from one to the other with ease. I liken it to watching a range of programmes on television – the human brain has a huge capacity to retain stories. It is no big thing. Really.
The experience I out-lined last time, with my word being shredded by an editor, left me very disillusioned. At one point I even considered giving it all up. Especially when I submitted another story to them. Yes, I know what I said last time – that I would never submit to them again. But this was immediately after that book was finished. At that particular moment, I was fairly buoyed up. The cover of my book was awesome. I loved it. So when I submitted a second novel and they wrote back to tell me that they were not going to consider it, I was totally wrecked. They ‘admired’ my work, but didn’t feel that they were in a position to pursue another Young Adult novel.
As it was, the rejection gave me time to reflect. Perhaps I really was as bad as they seemed to think. The logical thought, that they must have liked me enough to have accepted my first book, didn’t help. I didn’t even consider it. Depression does that; it blinds you to the obvious, the rational. I told myself that they were a ‘new’ publishing house and were desperate for authors; that was why they accepted me in the first place. Now that they were established, the must have realised their mistake.
I was in a bad way. I lost all confidence in myself, in what I wanted to do, in what I wanted to write. This really was the darkest hour in my writing career.
Naturally, I continued to write. For a long period, I wrote stories but didn’t submit anything. What would be the point in more rejections? They’d only depress me still further. I completed a novella which I thought had some value. I’d enjoyed writing it and after my third re-working I gave it a try and sent it out into that unforgiving world of agents and publishers. The third publisher accepted it. I was elated! How was this possible? But it was, and the letter they sent me was full of praise and encouragement. In fact, they said there was potential for a series of stories. Would I be interested?
Would I be interested?
The editor was very good. She obviously knew what she was doing, but had none of the pretentions of the previous one. She guided rather than demanded, and she valued my opinions, didn’t dismiss them. We worked as partners, and I never once felt lectured to. It was a thoroughly enjoyable process and I learned a great deal from her.
They asked me for ideas about the cover, and I duly wrote back. A mock-up arrived perhaps a fortnight later, and it looked good. I was becoming more and more excited. There is nothing like your work being considered worthy to make you feel good about yourself.By the end of the process, my little book was looking good. A publication date was set, and I waited with bated breath to see the preliminary book block. This is the final stage, an opportunity to give the manuscript one last look-over before it goes to publication. There were some minor typos, because after such a thorough editing process, there was now very little wrong with how it was looking.
So I sent it back.
Soon, another book would be added to my growing stable. I’d rediscovered my enthusiasm, the fires relit. Even before I heard anything more from the publishers, I had planned out two more adventures in this series. At last, I had focus.
Then the email came.
From the publisher.
They had gone bust. My editor wrote to me, full of apologies and regrets. It was all beyond her control. The banks had pulled the plug and the consequence was that my book would not be published.
From being taken to heady heights, I had once again, with the end in sight, been shot down in flames. I couldn’t believe it. When was anything ever to go right for me? Perhaps it really was time for me to quit…
You can discover my work by visiting my two websites – for Young Adult stories (including the one I describe above) visit: www.glennstuart.co.uk
For my adult work, visit www.stuartgyates.com
I hope you enjoy what you find.