Another post in the highly successful series, The Art of Rejection. The very lovely, Natasha Desborough, (who I finally met last weekend) shares her rejection journey to publication.
I got used to being rejected very early on my career. After completing my A’Levels I decided I wanted to break into the film industry as a runner. I would send out hundreds of letters to film and TV companies every single month and then take each knock back as a painful blow to the chest. I tried to roll with the punches and ended up with a huge file packed full of rejection letters that I collected over a two year period. But I was determined and ambitious back then so I put my head down and ploughed on. Then when I finally got a job on a low budget feature film I felt like I’d won the lottery and ceremoniously burned the letters on a bonfire in my garden.
I turned out that film production wasn’t where my heart was anyway so it was back to writing letters again. This time it was radio stations. Again I accumulated a stack of formulaic rejection letters until a big radio boss heard my voice, liked it and gave me a gig. But the rejection didn’t stop there. In fact it continued pretty much on a daily basis. I moved from the great XFM in London to the awesome BBC 6 Music where I indulged my passions for both music and comedy. During my live shows I’d write links, gags and sketches all of which I had to run past my producer first in case they were rubbish, libellous or as often is the case with me – inappropriate and too rude. Scripts and ideas got binned. Frequently. But that’s just the nature of the radio beast and there was no time for me to be precious over my work. Rejection rocks! Bin the crap. Keep the gold.
Over the years I began to grow a thick skin. It was just work - rejection was part of the job. Likewise with the insults. I’d get irate listeners spewing venom at me just because they didn’t like the tone of my voice or they thought I talked rubbish (which to be fair, I often did). I’d receive texts and emails from listeners desperate to tell me how crap I was or how much they hated me. And although at first it was painful, I began to get used to it.
So when I set about getting a literary agent for a non-fiction comedy manuscript that I’d written, I was prepared for the inevitable. In fact to be honest, I didn’t actually give a toss that I got rejected by well over 25 agents. Rejection rocks! It makes me tougher. More determined. I didn’t even mind when one particular agent I’d contacted wrote a very rude and spiteful email memo to their assistant about me and then accidentally pressed ‘reply’ instead of ‘forward’. OUCH! But then an agency signed me up and got me a book deal. Super.
So I attempted my first YA novel. And yes, of course it was rejected by loads of publishers, but we eventually found one with an editor who completely fell in love with my MS. And it was wonderful. And then it was suggested I try writing for younger readers. So I gave it a shot. And the rejections flooded in. But that was ok. I was used to it. So I wrote another MS. A better one. But I was met with more rejections. Loads of them. So I wrote another MS. An EVEN BETTER ONE. I really, really loved it. It was funny, pacey and exciting. But aside from my agent, nobody else seemed to think so. More rejections. Millions of them. And yes. That’s right – I wrote yet another MS. I love this one too. It’s out there now. Being rejected. And after that, I’ll write another.
I’ve just poured my heart and soul into a new MS. A Young Adult novel. And this one is very, very special to me. It’s not out there yet. It’s still all mine. I’m still knocking it into shape with my agent, making it the very best I can. But once it’s out there being pitched I know exactly what to expect. It’s just part of the job. Rejection rocks! Although this time, to be honest I’m sort of hoping I’ll be proved wrong…
To find out more about Natasha Desborough:
Books available by author
Weirdos Vs Quimboids
Weirdos vs Bumskulls