Black Holes & Revelations

It’s been a rocky couple of weeks emotionally. It’s so strange – sometimes I’m boundless, ricocheting from success to flop, flop to success, success to success, flop to flop… Taking it all in my stride. More often than not, my reaction to a rejection is only a resolute stare and the determination to do two more submissions that very same day. I KNOW the chances of publication are exceedingly slim, I KNOW publications turn away good work simply for lack of space, I KNOW publishers often love a piece but have to say no because it doesn’t aesthetically fit with the rest of a portfolio or collection. I know all this. But I think my pitfall is when I become a little too excited at the prospect of something. Let me explain.


I submit a lot. I’m emotionless and mechanical about it. You have to be. If I stitched a heart-string to every submission email/letter I’d have no sinews left by now. My heart would be a tattered mess. But saying that – there are some submissions that you hold out a special hope for, and maybe even believe you have a particular edge with it. When these emails come back full of the ‘lovely nos’ that is a bit harder.

Like most writers, I receive a fair few nos. I’d say more than half of these rejections are personalised – which is a double-edged sword. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for these responses (and if any publishers are reading this then I really really really really do appreciate them really really), but when I’ve had a few of these at once it just makes me feel like I’ve got so close and JUST been pipped at the post. A bit like coming perpetually second in interviews – you have the feeling that you’ve done something right, but when the scenario happens over and over again you can’t help but feel a bit teased, like you’re offered a sniff of the cake but never a slice. Sometimes you’d rather the cake was either shoved in your face or would stay the hell away!


(Lovely lovely cake)

There’s one particular submission that I’ve got quite far with… Last November I submitted a collection sample to a publisher – a very good one. I tried to be as flippant as ever, and not dwell on it too much, but I seem to have got quite a bit further through the selection process than I’d ever hoped. From around 650 manuscript samples (all of which were commented on as being clever, earnest, and lovely samples), I’m now left in the final group. Some manuscripts have already been selected for publication, and roughly 1 in 6 of what’s left might get an offer for 2018. I’m now hovering between incredible excitement and potential doom. The result is a sort of awkward simmering. I’m tense, yet flaccid. Hopeless, yet keen. If it ends up being  a ‘lovely no’ then I’m definitely going to take from this that the manuscript is most definitely publishable to get this far. It’s a huuuuuuuuge compliment. But if it turns out to be a hot hot hot yes, well. I might just explode into excitement and vociferous self-promotion. I apologise in advance. 😉

On another note – a lovely share of a poem, by moi.

In Between Hangovers have posted up another of my poems from 2016 – Marriage & Black Holes . Thank you guys!

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