From Elation to Depression in 560 Characters

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I am too disappointed today.

And I’m not using the modern version of “too” which seems to means “very”. I mean I am more disappointed than I should be and I can see the clouds of depression rolling in. Which is stupid.

I know it’s stupid and although that doesn’t relieve the disappointment it might, just might, help me keep things in perspective. As writing this moaning post might…

“Why are you disappointed?” I hear my zeros of fans cry. “Have you had some terrible news?”

“Yes.” I moan. “I haven’t been shortlisted for a competition I entered.”

“Which competition was this?”

“I’m glad you asked… It was the Write-a-thon for Nibfest. I had to write 5000 words using a prescribed opening line as my starting point. Which I did and was really pleased with my effort.”

“Oooooo.” Nobody says. “Well that doesn’t sound fair. You should’ve automatically won…”

“It’s not fair! And I worked myself into a froth of excitement by reading too much into the tweets leading up to the announcement of the result. Especially this one:”

There was obviously more than one time bending story entered...
There was obviously more than one time bending story entered…

“Ooooo. That bit where it says “time-bending fantasy” could be talking about your story.”

“I know!”

That’s exactly what I thought. And I congratulated myself on impressing the judges with my talent and daydreamed my way all the way to winning the lunch. And securing Laetitia Rutherford as my agent. And getting a book deal. And buying an island…

Then we went and saw Godzilla at the cinema… And even that 300 metre monster could not stop me thinking about the lunch I’d won.

I’d turned my phone off for the cinema. I managed to wait at least four seconds between the credits rolling and checking Twitter for any more updates. And then, slowly, over the course of three tweets, my absolute elation dissolved into abject disbelief.

The story of my happiness ground into dust
The story of my happiness ground into dust – but good news (I suppose) for 7 other people

So, heartfelt congratulations to @FinlaysonPalmer, @KMcCnoo (twitter doesn’t seem to know who this is, so perhaps it’s actually a misspelling of @mythagowood – me!) @Topkitty, @EssJayBaxter, @CassieLeedham, Jenny Butler-Smith and Jack O’Donnell.

In my last post I wrote that one of the reasons for this site was “To motivate myself by transforming each rejection from a personal slight into a mere statistic.” Although this seems to be much more than a statistic I’m beginning to believe in my previous wisdom. This is, after all, only the second writing competition I’ve entered and The Writing Dead will only be the third and if I don’t win that I’ll do some more…

Perseverance is the key.

To prove that success is possible here are the thoughts of a couple of the shortlistees…

Emma Finlayson-Palmer

Cassie Leedham


Twitter… Now I understand!

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Something rather marvellous happened yesterday. Something similar to a technological fairytale, or perhaps the beginning of one anyway.

Over the last month or two I’ve started to stalk literary agents and publishers on Twitter as part of my overall scheme to get a novel published. I’ve replied to a few of their tweets, injecting as much wisdom, humour and professional writing skills as I can into each 140 character missive as is logically possible.

No one has replied so far.

But I don’t take this to mean that my wisdom, humour and professionalism have been ignored. No. I think I’m inching into the minds of these gatekeepers like a mental parasite. When they next read a piece from me, a tiny trigger might click and they’ll realise that I’m the very same person who corrected their spelling or told them how wrong they were to like something. Check! Connection made.

Some tweets, though, don’t need correcting. Photos posted from literary events. Announcements that a client’s book has been placed. Publishing dates published… All proof that beyond my study, writerly things are happening.

One such post caught which caught my attention had an agent sounding comment on it from @someoneididntrecognise. After clicking through to her details and then to her blog, it did indeed turn out to be someone in the literary world. In fact an agent who was about to restart her agenting career.

Attaching my best Twittering fingers, I fired off a tweet, asking whether it was a secret where she was about to work and also a note saying how good her blog was. As usual, this led to much time wasting as I checked my Twitter feed once every three seconds.

Three hours and 3,600 checks later, @someoneiwasrecognising twet back saying thanks and “Not long til I can let you know now x” (note the kiss). A genuine message from a soon to be literary agent.

I grabbed the bull by the horns and replied immediately.

Are you accepting sneaky pre-officialagentedpostion submissions? #cheekygrin#rapaciousselfpromotion

(Hashtags are always funny and relevant)

Everything was on show within this tweet. I’ve heard of hashtags. I can make up words. I supposedly know what rapacious means. And I’m being funny about it. She’ll think I’m a genius.

Amazingly, she got back to me straight away. The great thing about twitter is you can read the whole tweet before you get nervous about what it might say. Not that those horrific rejection emails. And this was not a rejection at all. This was an acceptance. She was going to DM me my deets. Which sounded good.

Mere moments later (and these were moments expanded by the time-slip law of anticipation) her deets were indeed DMed to me. (I got her email address via the medium of direct messaging)

So, I dusted off my query letter, cunningly rewrote it to incorporate reference to our Twitter exchange, and sent off the first three chapters and the hopelessly dry synopsis of “The Clockwork Butterfly”.

She, a person not a automatic response, replied back and I wished her luck when she finally revealed her secrets in the future.

So, all in all, it’s just one more query to one more agent. But this one feels like it has a much more personal touch. I made tenuous contact first and I’ve read all of her blog so I do feel I know a bit about her. And she sounds nice.

Fingers crossed.

There’s a postscript to this which is both inspiring and terrifyingly intimidating.

I follow this secret agent on WordPress now and her latest post is in reply to a challenge she must have received on Twitter. I think it’s amazing, but I didn’t want to come across as too sycophantic, so I feel a bit silly “liking” it on her blog. If you want to see it I’ve added the link below…