My first publisher’s rejection. I was eighteen years old, and had just started studying Fine Arts at properly—fantasies and fairytales are still some of my favourite stories, and… I have evidence that magic does exist!
I diverge… back to my first rejection. I decided to write and illustrate (now that I was officially on the way to being an artist) a children’s story. Unfortunately, in one of the many moves during my period of living abroad, I lost the manuscript, but I can still picture some of the pen and ink drawings. The story—handwritten, there were no computers yet—was about a lovable alien, whose name was Halbert (as I remember, his parents couldn’t decide whether he should be Harry or Albert). Halbert had noticed a very sick planet, giving off waves of loud noise, which was known to the inhabitants as music (this was back in the early 80s) when travelling through the Milky Way, and had come to Earth to help fix her. That’s about all I remember of the actual story, although I think the planet was giving off sad vibrations and possibly odd smells too. I don’t remember which publisher I chose to submit my story, but it would have been something well-known and traditional, like Penguin. Even then, I aimed high. Imagine my distress when I got a long letter back, saying that while they loved the idea, I needed to consider for whom I was actually writing. My story was not really for children. But not sophisticated enough for adults. However, it showed lots of promise if I would spend a bit of time researching the audience. And so on.
At eighteen, I still had my school habit of sitting down and writing something, not even reading it over, handing it in, and getting usually a good grade. So all I saw in the letter was the rejection. It was only many years later that I understood that no publisher would have wasted their time encouraging me and suggesting options if my story was as hopeless as I had thought at the time.
Well, I have resurrected my childhood dream. It has never fully gone away, and I have kept writing off and on throughout my entire life. I have finished the first draft of a novel, and joined up with an amazing group of people with the intention of getting it finished and out there. Watch this space!!