My first novel, ‘Skelly’s Square,’ received its 60th five star review in the USA last night. When you add up the totals world wide it has around 150 such reviews. I’m very proud of this achievement as it encourages me that people like my writing and the stories and characters I’ve created. The point of this post, though, is not to brag and blow my own trumpet. Instead, this is a post about rejection as opposed to success.
I received 80 rejections from agents and publishers before I secured a deal for Skelly’s Square.’ These rejections varied in length and style. Some were encouraging, most were kind but, at the end of the day, they all boiled down to the one unpalatable message – thanks but no thanks. These were tough months as e mail after e mail landed in my inbox, all delivering the same bad news. Very tough months.
Then in the space of a week I received two offers. Not one, but two! All the prior rejections were forgotten. Somebody believed in my writing enough to take a chance on a first time fantasy writer from Northern Ireland. It was enough to fill me with the confidence to keep writing as did the subsequent positive reviews. It provided me with the focus and resolve to write the sequel in four frenetic months last year.
The sequel, ‘A New Jerusalem,’ will be published this autumn. This time round, I secured a deal with my first query. But I know what it’s like to fail, to fall short, to be told I’m not quite good enough. Everyone experiences that feeling at some point in their lives. Some regard it as soul destroying, others character building. It thickens the skin, hardens the resolve, gives you the conviction to keep plugging away in pursuit of your dreams.
If we all gave up at the first hurdle, or eightieth for that matter, no books would ever be written, no music recorded, no movies produced. It’s not always the most talented who make it, it’s the most determined and dedicated. Those who refuse to give in, who keep clinging on and battering at the door until it finally creaks open and a chink of light beckons the artist inside to the warmth of within.
I’m currently writing the back cover for ‘A New Jerusalem’ and growing increasingly excited about it seeing the light of day. I’m thinking ahead to the third book in the series and some possible spin offs. The possibilities are many and it’s all because I stuck at it when all seemed lost. I hope today, whatever challenges you are facing, you refuse to succumb to the odds and persevere. I believe in you. Start believing in yourself.