Saturday, 7 November 2009

Hello? Is there anyone out there?

Mmmm. It's all gone eerily quiet in my writing life. It's not me; I'm writing away like a mad woman. I've sent two articles out this week and about seven proposals to a variety of magazines on subjects as varied as wildlife, writing and business. And there lies the problem. I've heard nothing back. It's like the Bermuda triangle here, or the Marie Celeste. It's as though my email proposals have been swallowed up by some mysterious Internet proposal gobbler and the editors are blithely carrying on regardless.Or maybe they have got through and they're pressed the delete button without a second glance.

I know there's been a postal strike on, but luckily we've still had a trickle of mail getting through every day. It may be that as the backlog of post filters through my manuscripts will be returned to me (not all on the same day, I hope! There's only so much a writer can take!)

I'm doing all the right things by not sitting here, twiddling my thumbs, waiting anxiously by the phone, or staring at my in-box, or hiding in wait to ambush the postman as he nears my door. I'm working on other articles and features. But every now and then I get a little niggling and nagging voice at the back of mind (it sounds a bit like Kenneth Williams) going, "Oooh 'eeer, all the work you'll ever write will be rejected, you know." Most days I just bat it away with my trusty electrified 'negativity' swatter but some days, when the tumble weed crosses my computer screen, or the postman misses my house out on his rounds, and my in-box doesn't ping, I can't help but think, "Oh my God, no-one wants to publish my work!" Then the manic wailing of, "WHY OH WHY doesn't anyone want to publish my work?" Starts.

It can be demotivating when you are writing an article that you have proposed to an editor so it is ready to send should they want it and you hear nothing back from them. I am loathe to email them again to check on the progress of my submission/proposal as everything I've ever read on the subject says that this is a sure fire way of being rejected. Yet, if I hadn't have emailed the Writers' Forum to check on an article I'd sent about writing courses I wouldn't have got it published as the editor had forgotten to email me back to ask me to send in the manuscript. So what do you do? Editors are busy people and mistakes/oversights do happen. But it's also true that if a editor doesn't like your idea or manuscript nine-times-out-of ten it's deleted or put in the recycling pile never to be thought of again,and the writer never hears the fate of their work.

One way round this would be do multiple submissions, tailoring your proposal or manuscript to the specific style and preferences of the editor of each magazine you send it to. But, again, I am loathe to do this. What happens if you get two or more editors interested in your work (highly unlikely, I know). I don't want to annoy any of the editors by saying,"Ooops, sorry, just sold that one." They will be less eager to read my work after this. What to do!

My heart sinks when I turn on my computer every morning and there is nothing in my in-box other than a round robin from Tescos urging me to join their diet plan and lose two stone before Christmas! (How do they know I'm trying to lose weight?!)

But anyway. The only way forward is to move forward. Keep sending article proposals out there and keep writing the articles/features. So I am now going to take the advice of a speaker friend of another speaker I interviewed last week SUMO (Shut Up and Move On! (If you are reading this, Liam - stop it! I can see my duck from here and it's giving me the evil eye! I know, I know - I can and I will!

Julie xx


  1. I know exactly how you feel. I've had a really long period of thinking I'd never hear any positive news again - but then last week I heard back from an editor that an article had been accepted and also that another article had been published which I didn't know had been accepted. It really does seem to go in cycles. I'm sure you'll have some good news soon.

  2. Hi, Helen, and thanks. Yes, it does seem to go like this doesn't it. I'm just hoping that if I keep reading my target magazines and improve my writing by reading what does get published, keep writing and sending my stuff out there, come up with some good ideas, then I might get something else published.

    A lot of problems stem from the fact that I don't always have a lot of confidence in my work amd I always think that when I've had something accepted or published that it was just a fluke and the editor has made a mistake and must have been so desperate for submissions that they scraped the bottom of the barrel and took my work! I don't think I'm ever going to get published again! Dies anyone else ever feel like that?

    Still, at least I'm making all the right noises and actually sitting down to write - whixh is always a good start!

    Thanks for your support , Helen. I do appreciate it. And I thought your article in The New Writer was spot on.

    Julie xx