My wife, who I love dearly, once described me as, 'happy and optimistic to the point of being mentally ill.' She meant it as a compliment, I'm sure.
But she may have a point, I've just received a rejection letter for my novel. It's from a big publisher* and although there's a little, inevitable, disappointment my overall reaction is to be happy. I mean, I was happy when they asked for the full manuscript and then you have the couple of weeks of tension waiting for the answer (for me it's the worst bit) and the moments when you allow yourself to daydream about your book actually being on the shelves, that thing I've thought about since I was about ten, but you cut that thinking short as it's tantamount to opening the necronomicon – that way madness lies.
And to be honest. I had an inkling that it might not be for them.
But I have written this book, worried about it, battled my, generally failing, health to finish it and the quest for me is not really about getting the book on the shelves. That's an extra, a bonus. It's about creating something that A) let's others see the things in my head and B) works. 'Cos if I can do those two things one day it probably will be published and maybe I'll get to pay back a little bit of the pleasure that the thousands of books I've devoured have given me.
The book was rejected as the editor didn't like the style or think it worked for his company. Which might sound harsh (particularly if you're a non writer) but isn't. Because he liked the way I write, better, he thought I was good at it, really good and left an open invitation for more work. The rejection wasn't about mechanics, it wasn't about the world not being real or the characters being thin and unbelievable. It wasn't because I can't write dialogue. It wasn't because the plot made no sense or the creatures were ridiculous. And best of all it wasn't because the thing was dull. In short, it wasn't rejected for any of the things that worry me.
So because of that, and a couple of other things**, for the first time ever I'm not sat in front of my word processor thinking, 'can I do this? what if I'm a hack and just kidding myself?'
I'm sat here thinking that I probably can do this. It's kind of cool.
Doesn't mean the next project will be any good though...
*I don't think I'm committing a faux pas by blogging this but If you are that big publisher and I am just drop me a note and I will de-internetise this. And grovel.
**You know who you are.