Saturday, 4 June 2016

Holland

I've been quiet. There is a reason. I was in Holland; on holiday.

If you think this is strange; I can understand you. Holland is not top of many people's list when they think of where to go. Spain and Greece might be several leagues higher. I suppose I've never been normal.

For one thing I don't like beaches; or crowds for that matter. I have a fondness for history; for old buildings; canals; art; and coffee shops. Or to put it another way; old European cities. In the past we've visited many Italian cities; Rome; Venice; Milan; Turin; Verona; Brescia; Asti; and so many more.

About four years ago we rented a cottage in Northern France and headed across the border into Belgium once or twice and instantly fell for the country. So much so we rented a cottage in Belgium the following year; as well as the year after that. And on one of these trips we drove into Holland; score another obsession.

This year we rented a cottage in Oosterhout. I would tell you the details so that the owner might benefit from some extra custom but we were the last ever holiday rental he accepted. He's converting his cottages for long term renting - months at a time. So it was our last time in this wonderful town. Not that it will be the last time in Holland - we're already thinking of where we might go next year.

Well you can rest assured I'm not going to bore you with excessive details of the holiday. There is no chance you would want to see my holiday pics. Instead I'm going to tell you a little of what's relevant from the trip - to the writing.

Whilst there I had time to think about my writing. For one thing I was thinking about whether I should be doing it at all. I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of years tapping on the keys of this keyboard writing novels and novellas and sending them off to publishers and agents and then waiting for the rejections to flow in. And boy, have they ever.

I suppose I'm to blame a little for this because when I go submitting I go for it in a big way. After all to have received hundreds of rejections means you've made hundreds of submissions. So I am just setting myself up to be shot down over and over and over. And they are taking their toll on me.

Even with a reasonably thick skin I am starting to feel that this level of rejections means I'm not quite as good at this as I felt I was. I'm a big reader. Over the years I've read hundreds, possibly thousands. And not all of the ones I have read have been brilliant. I've read (or part read in some cases; abandonments are not uncommon) a lot of poor books. And the one thing all of them had in common is they were published. An author sat down and typed the words. They were sent in to agents and publishers who thought they were good enough to see print.

I consider my books to be better in quality that a number of these and, even given the natural bias I might have to my own creations, I had hoped I might have had more success. Now I know I'm not going to be alone. And yes, I know I have had offers of publication that I've turned down so you might think I'm being melodramatic. And you have a point. I have had offers, Both my horror novel Mr. Stinky and weird novella Intersection have seen a contract fly my way. There were just issues with them both which meant I couldn't progress. In some ways having these offers is probably making it a little worse for me. Anyway suffice it to say I've been having a bit of a downturn in writing drive,

So the holiday probably came at a good time, After all I couldn't write being away from my PC but I could think and sketch down notes in my notebook. And I certainly did that. Pages and pages of notes for a new fantasy novel.

A little while ago I would have described this as a young adult fantasy. The lead protagonist is a 12 year old girl. However a recent email from an agent about my first attempt at YA fantasy, the Patternmaker's Daughter, contained a little feedback. In it she said my book had an adult voice, not a young adult voice. This being true, and with it being her job to know this stuff I'm not doubting her, I am not sure how to change the way I write to qualify as young adult. So if I'm going to write this next one I'm just going to call it fantasy.

I'm going to give it a go; ignore all the rejections (if possible) and get on with writing. I can worry about all the rest later.

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