Sunday, 17 January 2016

My first rejection letter. A gift not a curse.

I received my first rejection letter in the post the other day. Of course I have received plenty of rejection e mails for short stories I have been sending around, however this was my first rejection for a comic script; and also my first actual, tangible letter. It was also the first to contain any feedback.
I reliase that this piece is a little removed from the usual reviews and reflections, so if that, kind stranger, is what you are seeking, I apologise. I'm honoured if this little blog informs, even if just a little, what comics you read, but on this occasion I will be found wanting. I simply must pluck these thoughts from the cacophony of my conscious mind and twist them into words. 
So, I shall continue.
I had sent my script for a future shock story to 2000 ad in October last year. Allow me to elucidate, I am a writer. I feel most at home when I am wrestling with the written word, cavorting with the alphabet to create stories and fictions to share with the world. Sure, at the moment I may appear to be a full time stroke nurse, but this is merely an illusion, a trick of the light. In my heart and in my, arguably where it matters most, mind, I am a writer.
Comics are a form that have always been there for me, through thick and thin, there has been a comic that has spoken to me, that has guided me, that has drawn out emotions that I did not know possible. Despite all this, just on the surface of comics, they're just good fun. How could I not want to contribute to this world, when it has contributed so much to mine? As a lifelong fan of 2000ad I jumped at the chance when their submissions window opened. The story was titled 'The Escapee' and it was my tip of the cap to science fiction writers like Asimov and Dick (Phillip K and not the phallus, always have to point that out to my little brother).
When the stamped addressed envelope returned I tore it open expectantly, heart pounding ferociously. It was a peculiar feeling upon reading, I felt that weight in my stomach, the one that slowly transforms itself from disappointment into a crippling nausea that rolls around internally, like you have swallowed a porcupine-if you're a fellow writer, no doubt you've experienced this. This was only momentary though and soon gave way to something else, inspiration. The letter itself was somewhat brief, understandably so as the sheer volume of submissions they have to dutifully sift through must be monumental. It had only one real sentence of critique. The editor didn't think that the story was strong enough to grab a reader's attention. Now I have been soaking up a lot of advice lately, either reading articles online or taking to my writer friends. A key theme that seems to be cropping up is that, in scenarios such as this one, that the wrong pair of eyes looked at the work. That if the right person saw it, it would be a strong enough story. I apologise to my friends and to those who, in a similar fashion to me have turned their thoughts into some internet entity for all to peruse, but I simply don't subscribe to this theory. Maybe this is the case from time to time, however such a blunt refusal of critique is surely foolish. The critique is offered by an experienced eye and hand that it would be folly to bite at. I am not hubristic enough to reject this assistance out of hand, because of some dark egotism masquerading as pride.
So going back to the line of critique (yes I'm aware that word has been used rather frequently in the last few moments or so), the story was not strong enough to grab the reader. I pulled my synopsis from the envelope and read it once more, truly read it, carefully and meticulously picking apart each sentence. You know what I found? It wasn't a strong enough story, in fact the synopsis was really sloppy and haphazard. I still felt the premise was interesting, but the way I presented it was dull and uninspired, it was no wonder that it was rejected. 
At the time I was writing the script, my son was around a month and a half old, life was a twisted mess of nappies, sleepless nights, bottle sterilisation and dream chasing. I'm not trying to make excuses or shift blame onto my baby boy, I'm a grown up now, I can accept responsibility. The truth is I was desperate and completely rushed the submission, with no pause to think about story, structure, or in fact any basic tenets of writing. I'm older now, my son is six months old and sleepless nights are less regular. I have worked hard at my craft, working hard on stories and reading anything I can to help me broaden my literary horizon (I found 'into the woods' by John Yorke particularly helpful, but that's for another time). 
The point is, you have to turn failure into opportunity. That's what this is, an opportunity to transform and grow as a writer. I suppose what I'm trying to say is, don't be foolish enough to take good advice; no one knows everything.
I'm going to include the original synopsis here, but before I do let me make a note. If you have found your way here through social medis( the link will be on Twitter) then you maybe a publisher who is wondering why you were tagged. The reason is selfish, I am seeking further feedback. So I apologise, profusely, but you cannot blame me for trying different ways to enter your magical realm.

Future Shocks: Escapee


Declan Rift is a private investigator on the planet DC-9, a human colony in the far reaches of space. He hears a news report about an escaped android and a substantial reward for it's capture and return; he decides to capture the android and use the reward to marry his girlfriend Astrid.
Declan visits one of his sources, O'Halloran, to pressure him for information. O'Halloran is tight lipped and afraid of giving out information, hinting that Declan is meddling in something he doesn't fully understand. As they are talking O'Halloran is shot through the head and killed by clandestine military forces, who give chase to Declan. The mysterious figures encircle Declan and accuse him of being the escaped android. It is suggested here that Declan has a history of mental health issues, which Astrid has helped him overcome. He begins to question whether he is the android, but is worried that Astrid is in danger if the same military forces use her as leverage against him.
Declan escapes his assailants and heads back to the flat that he and Astrid share. As he bursts through the door he triggers a tripwire and the flat is caught in an explosion. Declan survives the blast and as he lays bleeding and wounded on the floor, he sees the silhouette of Astrid through the ash and detritus. As she approaches him and comes in to view it is revealed that the explosion has torn away most of her skin and limbs to expose the robotic endoskeleton underneath; showing that she is in fact the android.

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