I’m in one of those moods today, the kind of mood where everything seems just too damned difficult, too unlikely. I’m having one of those days when it really does seem impossible that “Naming Names” or any of my other novels, will ever be published.
When I entered the Mslexia competition, I had no idea what I was up against. I supposed that, like me, some women would enter novels. I guessed they might number in the low hundreds.
I know that everyone seems to think they’ve got a book in them, and I know that the advent of cheap computers and good wordprocessing software, complete with spelling and grammar checkers, has made writing a novel increasingly easy, at least in the most practical sense of producing a typed manuscript.
When “Naming Names” was longlisted in the Mslexia competition, I still didn’t know how many books had been submitted, and I didn’t know how long the longlist was. The deadline for submitting the completed novel was tight, so I guessed not all the books would be finished in time, and some might have attracted agents or publishing deals since being submitted. I assumed the longlist was about a dozen, or maybe 20, books.
It was only after I heard that “Naming Names” was one of two runners-up for the prize that I found out that 1800 first chapters were submitted for the competition, and that the longlist comprised 100 novels. I was shocked. That put “Naming Names” in the top .0017% of the books submitted for the Mslexia competition. That’s pretty good going by anyone’s estimation.
It doesn’t guarantee anything, though.
More and more people are writing novels, more and more of those novels are finding there way into agents’ hands, and, all the time, a bigger and bigger percentage of them is being rejected.
So, what makes me continue to believe that my book is any better, any more special than any of the hundreds and thousands that are rejected every year by the people who know what they’re doing? Rejected by the agents and publishers whose job it is to know what the reader wants before the reader knows it.
Right now, “Naming Names” is in the hands of an agent. A very good agent, by all accounts, is actually reading my little book. I’d ask you to wish me luck, but I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need a damn sight more than that. I’m off to gird my loins for the possibility of more rejection, but, if it comes, I do hope it doesn’t come today, because today, I’m in one of those moods.