The Object of my Rejection

Another day; another rejection.

It’s part and parcel of all writers’ lives. And as today’s rejection crashed onto the doormat, winding me like a boxer’s well-aimed punch (metaphores you understand…my in-box pings rather than crashes and I think my shoulders only sagged momentarily as I read the one line auto-email rejection), I decided to not let it incur too heavily on my day.

The attempt to carry on as normal was a failure, but the intent was there.

Rejection letters do ruin your day. At least, they ruin a good few minutes of mine. Then I remember the submissions I’ve yet to hear back from; the submissions I’m currently preparing; the submissions I’ve yet to even think about sending. It’s the thought (call it ‘hope’ if you will) of receiving something other than a rejection that keeps me sending my manuscript out. It’s the same thought that keeps me writing the sequel. It’s the same thought that spurs me on to formulate other projects.

Of course, rejection hurts. I would have to be a hard-hearted, mean-spirited kind of person not to feel it. Luckily, for those suffering from rejection’s cruel caress, there is the internet. Social media is platitude central when it comes to dealing with rejection, but try as I might, I can’t seem to squeeze any comfort from them. They feel anti-septic; wiped clean of real emotion; meaning bleached away.

In fact, they leave me wondering if people really live their lives by these words. Some folk’s social media postings worryingly suggest that they might. Am I missing something? What’s that you say? A heart? How rude.

Go on then…see if these speak to your soul:


No…not feeling it.


‘fraid not.


I’m not suggesting a rejection from an agent is exactly a struggle by the way…it’s not. Ask me again when the rejections hit fifty in number.


There’s undenyable rhythm to this one, it’s almost a bit rappy, but it still feel vacant; as if it’s been written by a Hallmark cards copy writer.


Thanks Bo. Stating the obvious ‘aint helping either.


Believe me, I can be bought. Name your price.


OK, so this one cheered me up; I admit it. But only because irony works every time. It doesn’t help me grow, or improve, or (and feel free to shoot me down for this) become more mindful. Of anything.

Incidentally, I thought Louise Brown was the world’s first test tube baby. Is she writing now?

Finally, and only because the internet just loves a cute animal…


I know the mouse is supposed to be doing chest pumps or something, but it still kind of looks dead to me. The cheese looks less perished.

If a photoshopped rodent helps you through a moment of rejection, well, good for you. I need something else. Something to own the word. Something to make me less scared of seeing it next time. And what better way to do this than with words themselves?

Come to think of it, that platitude with the rhythm, the one with the rap-sound…it’s given me an idea for a platitude of my own. Now I don’t need to pilfer off the internet for words of wisdom; I can turn to my own very own reminder to not giving in to rejection.

Here it is…feel free to copy and paste onto a background of your choosing and post and share with abandon. (But please don’t harm any defenceless mamals…that poor mouse…was it someone’s pet, do you think?)

An injection of rejection is cause for objection.

Subject it to ejection; save your writing from abjection.

© flyingscribbler

Self-Promotion….how shameless should it be?

I’ve been busy putting together begging  covering letters for agents. Nothing prepared me for this fiendishly difficult task. It is infinitely more difficult than writing my book in the first place; at least, that’s how it seems. The situation is not made any easier by the fact that each agent appears to require slightly different things from prospective clients, which means each letter needs very small, nuanced differences.

I’ve read tons of blog posts on the subject and naturally have squeezed every last droplet of advice from the pages of the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. They all scream the same thing: this is your one and only opportunity to promote yourself! And the covering letter is the place to do it. Forget the manuscript – or the three chapters of it they ask for, along with the synopsis, personal details, bio and bribe – it’s what you say about yourself that seems to matter. It’s up there with writing a CV and covering letter for prospective employers: it’s all about selling yourself and highlighting the most interesting and bankable quality you have to offer.

This leads me rather neatly – and here’s a tenuous segue if ever there was one – to my topic for this blog post.

Last week I was down in the Languedoc region of France. Whilst there I visited the charming town of Pézenas. This is a town with a past: old houses leaning across narrow streets; pretty squares surrounded by grander maisons; antique shops; artisans around every corner; charming cafés and bistros. You would have thought that these features alone would be enough to sell the town to prospective visitors. However, in a region which is packed with charming and historic destinations, not to mention beaches, the canal du midi, and the nearby Pyrenees, smaller towns such as Pézenas have to do everything possible to stand out and be heard. In short, they need to promote the most interesting thing about themselves; the thing that will make a prospective visitor stop and take a look.

In the same way that I have (I hope) created an original and interesting story which (I hope) will cause an agent to stop and take a look, so Pézenas has Molière to provide a similar role.


I didn’t have a guide-book with me on this trip, so was quite unprepared for the revelation that this is a town which seems to live and breathe France’s answer to Shakespeare. At first, I didn’t notice. Then a pattern emerged. Every other building appeared to have his name on it.

There’s the Brasserie Molière.


Le Grand Hôtel Molière.


Something called La Scénovision Molière, which was a sort of interactive exhibition put on by the local council.scenovisionmoliere-206x300 I’d imagine you can immerse yourself in all things Molière inside: wear a frock coat like The Miser; powder a wig like Tartuffe; play a hilarious game of mistaken identity. That sort of thing. I couldn’t say for certain because it was shut.

I passed at least two buildings which claimed to have had the great man himself inside their walls. One of these proudly asserts by means of a wall-mounted plaque, that the barber Gely, friend of Molière, lived here.

Moliere woz 'ere!

Moliere woz ‘ere!

It is unclear whether the dates refer to how long the barber lived there or how long the two men were friends. It is equally unclear whether Gely was Molière’s barber, or just a friend who happened also to cut hair. Perhaps he was famous for his styling, otherwise why mention the man’s profession at all? Didn’t they all wear wigs then anyway?

I digress.

I swear another building actually stated that Molière visited this place’ once’ in such and such a year. I can’t back this up with pictorial proof, but I know what I saw. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere else laid claim to hosting the playwright for a pee one day. I’ve been to Stratford…I know the lengths people go to for a piece of the money-spinning literary pie!

And of course, there’s a suitably grand monument to the man.

.moliere statue

So, Pézenas cannot be accused of not trying, (although there was no rue Molière, which would seem an obvious choice). This place is doing everything it can to link itself to France’s best known, most performed, most famous literary figure.

And to think…he only visited the place briefly. And then as an actor in a touring troupe. They say he must have found inspiration for some of his characters in the townsfolk, and I’m sure he did. But the fellow didn’t make his name there. That happened much later, back in Paris. Where he was born. If anywhere can lay claim to him, it’s Paris. Stratford-Upon-Avon claims Shakespeare as its own because he was born there, married there and lived there a lot of the time. Pézenas claims Molière because he passed through and stopped a while!

Now that’s selling yourself. Can’t think of anyone famous enough actually from your town? No problem. Search the archives; find someone famous who had a wash and cut. Once.

Good on you Pézenas. You’ve found something which makes people stop and take a look. I just hope I’ve done the same in my pitch to agents.

And who knows, if I ever find a publisher and make my mark on the world with my writing, there will one day be plaques bearing my name adorning walls all over Scotland. I’d settle for that, no matter how tenuous the link.

Yes, even if it’s as tenuous as the link between the beginning and end of this blog post.

Acronym corner….a new method of getting over crushing disappopintment.

So, I didn’t win the Kelpies Prize the other week. I won’t deny that I was really keen to win, but just finding myself on the shortlist was a thrill, and I think it will serve me well in my future efforts to get my book published.

How’s that for magnanimity?

What’s that you’re saying at the back there? You don’t believe me? Well, you should. I genuinely am ok with my new status of ‘shortlisted writer’. And the event itself was fantastic. I met some great people, including my fellow shortlisted writers and the folk from Kelpies. I also enjoyed the utter thrill of hearing an excerpt of my book being read to the guests by Janis Mackay, storyteller and childrens’ author extraordinaire.

The wonderful Janis Mackay reading at the Kelpies 2015.

The wonderful Janis Mackay reading at the Kelpies 2015.

Not that I arrived at this place of emotional serenity immediately after the announcement. I didn’t leap out of that prize ceremony roller coaster shouting “wow, that was AMAZING!”, pose for a “I rode the Kelpies” photograph, and run directly to the next ride. I’m only human, and therefore not entirely without some complex emotions. But I have found myself, just a couple of weeks or so later, on an even keel and ready to (warning – personal development phrasing alert) ‘move on’.

Having been trained in the art of giving and receiving feedback at work (“Try not to look quite so terrified when pouring that Laurent Perrier in severe turbulence”), I was aware that what I experienced in the days following the ceremony was pretty close to the response most of us have when given feedback of any sort. I refer, of course, to DERAC.

D = DENIAL. If fantasizing for a few days afterwards that it had in fact been me up on stage collecting the publishing deal and a comedy-sized cardboard cheque is denial, then, yes. Check that box.

E = EMOTION. Yes. There was emotion. All sorts.

R = RATIONALISATION. “It’s not the end of the world. Nobody died. None of this will matter one day”. (Like when I’m dead).

A = ACCEPTANCE. I was shortlisted. That’s the focus. We can’t all be the winner. The short-listing was the winning. I am a winner. Just not the winner of a publishing deal and a large, comedy-sized cardboard cheque. That’s all. No biggie. (I hate that phrase. Why have I used it?)

C = CHANGE/CONTINUE. I think I’m at this stage. And exhibiting both possible reactions. I am continuing to write and continuing to stay positive. I have also changed my perspective on the past few weeks: the short-listing is all positive and can only help me in my writing career. It isn’t a question of not winning. It is a question of making it to the all-important shortlist.

And this is an entirely acceptable and accurate account of how I have dealt with the situation.

There is, however, an alternative, and equally accurate version of events. It also has the advantage of a more memorable acronym, because let’s be honest….DERAC? Somebody thought this up. And now employees across the english-speaking world use this uninspiring acronym to learn how to cope when someone tells you you’re a bit crap.

People, I give you (and no sniggering please; I’m sleep-deprived and likely to cry at any minute) DABHANDED. This acronym will surely soon be rolling off the tongues of eager ‘learning day’ delegates in badly ventilated conference rooms the length and breadth of the country. And now I shall proceed to demonstrate how it worked for me and my emotional journey.



B = BREAKDOWN. A minor one when we arrived home. A direct result of the disappointment/denial/despair/despondency in tandem with the alcohol consumed in the hours following the award giving.


A = ANGER. With myself, my situation, my not winning. Actually, with pretty much anything and everyone. A direct result of the hangover.

N = NEEDY. Because I became suddenly very needy of everyone.

D = DECIDE. I decided this sate of affairs was ridiculous.

E = EMOTION. In that I looked for a more pragmatic and constructive one. I opted for ‘happy’

D = DETERMINATION. I am now determined more than ever that my book will find an agent and be published.

And there you have it: two versions of a similar process. They both see me in a good place…happy and determined to continue putting my manuscript out there until someone (let’s, for the sake of argument, call them “Angel”) decides that it is worthy of the printed page.

In the meantime, the writing continues. As it always will. Regardless.

Award Night Schadenfreude or The Dangers of Facial Leakage

Funny things, award ceremonies. They exist to celebrate the best: the best written; the best sung; the best acted; the best designed. And we tune in in our millions to watch these ‘bests’ receive their prizes. It’s all, of course, tremendously exciting. Who, we wonder, will win? What will they say? Will they trip up the stairs? Will they remember to thank their Granny? All very important aspects of an awards ceremony I’m sure. But is that really why people tune in?

There are of course those awards – the Oscars, BAFTAS, Golden Globes – where it’s all about the dresses. At least it seems that way if the dreary output from our esteemed television networks is anything to go by. How low will they go? Who dares to go strapless? Will a single person this year wear yellow? In the rain. And I’m sure many viewers tune in just for the fashion chat. And why not? It’s often more exciting than the hours of dross to follow.

Amongst all the reasons for dropping everything to catch these ceremonies (or for remembering to catch it later on the internet) is the less obvious, and oh-so guilty pleasure of waiting for your favourite star to drop their ever-present smile. It’s that split-screen moment just before the winner is announced: six hopeful faces, still smiling their professional, ‘awards-night’ smile; still smiling their ‘God-I-hope-it’s-me’ smile; still smiling their ‘this-could-really-be-it smile’; still smiling their ‘the-world-is-watching-me smile’. Then we finally have our winner and the screen fills with the shocked/in denial/confused/delirious/ecstatic face of the newly crowned victor. The other contenders vanish; their moment is gone. But in the split second before they are cut from our view, we get the briefest of glimpses of their reaction to the news; their honest reaction before the pro in them kicks them back into line. It’s a rare and precious moment. Seconds later, as the victor climbs to the stage, the runners-up find cameras thrust into their faces, so they’d better be ready with a generous smile. Come on, let’s face it: we love to see them struggle; to see the pain behind the grimace; to see the festering resentment of ten nominations with no wins. It’s in the eyes. Unless they’ve opted for tinted eye wear, which just ruins the fun for the rest of us.

This is not something I spend much time thinking about. Honestly it isn’t. But, if you read my last post, you’ll know that I’m shortly up for a prize myself, the Kelpies Prize 2015, for children’s fiction. Admittedly, it’s on somewhat of a smaller scale than the Academy Awards, or the Booker, but it is nevertheless the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in. It’s the only prize ceremony I’ve ever been involved in (unless you count my sixth form prize night, where I was shocked to find myself walk off with the joint prize for French. I wasn’t even in contention, but I think my teacher felt obliged to give me something for improving from a predicted ‘E’ to an actual ‘A’).

As my nerves have been increasing, so too has the awareness that all eyes will be on me and the other two shortlisted writers. What if, like me, someone there enjoys the Schadenfreude of watching for the runners-up reaction? With this in mind I thought I’d better practice my split-screen moment: the before (Will I? Could I?); the after (OMG! It’s me! Or, Bravo! Well done!); and, yes, the momentary in-between face (Bugger! Not me!).

And I need to practice because I’ve been told that I suffer from ‘facial leakage’. The inability to fake an emotion.

So, judge for yourselves. Are these faces believable?

The Before Face:


The After, OMG! It’s Me! Face:




The After, Bravo! Well done! Face:

wpid-img_20150821_150642.jpgYes, it’s identical to my OMG! It’s me! face. This is the face I hope to be wearing whatever the outcome. It is, I think, a genuine-looking smile. It’s a smile that only hurts if you don’t mean it. Without it of course, there’s every danger that I could be wearing….

The Bugger! Not Me! face:


Or the ‘No, really, I’m super happy for you, really’ face:


Or, and this would be a personal disaster, the ‘I feel like killing you’ face:


I think I’d be on safer ground with the ‘oh well, there’s always next year’ face:


Naturally, on the night, there will be no hiding my genuine emotion; all the effort in the world won’t help me. I shall just have to trust my face to perform for me because I’ll be too busy being genuinely excited, terrified, expectant, hopeful, and most importantly, thrilled to be there at all. That’s the face I’ll be wearing: thrilled and excited and just happy to be part of it. And I don’t have a picture of that face, because I can’t fake it a week away from the event. And in any case, your mouth can be doing one thing, but it’s the eyes that have it. That’s where the true emotion hides. I’ll check in with you next week with some photos and you can judge for yourselves.

Whichever way it goes, I trust my eyes will be smiling brightly.

Travels with my manuscript; a journey with many destinations.

It’s been another lengthy absence from here…I can think of no other reason than I didn’t have very much to say. It’s always been something I’ve struggled with (at least since I stopped posting flash fiction) : keeping a theme running through my posts. I do think this is how the best blogs attract and keep readers.

With this in mind, I think I’ve found something to blog about which might a) be interesting, and b) keep you coming back for multiple visits. I won’t mind if you don’t, but I’m hesitant to give up on my blog, so here goes.

I’ve embarked on a journey.

This isn’t in itself ground-breaking news. I’m always embarking on a journey. I’m the flyingscribbler.

In my writing life I’ve embarked on several journeys: starting to write; learning to write better; writing short stories; discovering flash fiction; blogging with my flash fiction; entering flash competitions; winning some; daring myself to write children’s fiction; discovering I really enjoy writing children’s fiction; deciding to write a whole children’s novel.

Many journeys. The last, I’m happy to say, I completed. My previous blog (from February, but who’s counting the months?) was about finishing the third draft of my second attempt at a children’s novel, and sending the manuscript out to a competition. I entered my story, Monsters M.I.A., into the Middle Grade (8-12) category of the Kelpies Prize 2015, thereby embarking upon another journey. This is a trip I am not making alone; rather I see myself AND my manuscript heading off on this voyage in tandem. So far, we are having a great trip, the two of us, and have arrived at our first destination.

A few weeks ago, I heard that my story had made the shortlist; and a short shortlist at that.Facebook-20150803-020057 On receiving the letter – a real, physical, rip-it-open-as-fast-as-you-can letter – I apparently screamed as if someone had died. In my head I was whooping with delight and joy with the unbound thrill of it; I clearly need to work on the outward manifestations of my inner emotions. In the months between sending my manuscript out and receiving the good news I had thought about this possibility, but my thoughts were edged in a Disney-like fantasy glow. A couple of times, I found myself imagining that I was at an award ceremony, but again, this played itself out like a soft-focus dream sequence; I didn’t actually think I’d get this far.

Oddly, (and psychologists out there might enjoy this), since discovering I am shortlisted, I haven’t played through the awards’ night scenario once in my head; it’s as if I daren’t. As the event itself looms ever-closer, the tantalizing possibility that I might win has had the effect of shutting down my internal projector; I can literally no longer imagine myself there. I don’t know what to expect. It’s not as if I go to award ceremonies very often. Or ever.

Who does know what to expect when they embark on a writing life? I know I didn’t when I first set out on the journey. I had no idea if I would ever be any good at it for a start. And my modest success with adult fiction didn’t mean I was going to repeat it with children’s fiction.

But here I am: shortlisted (one of three) for an important children’s fiction prize. Publication awaits the winner, but I imagine just being shortlisted will provide a major boost to my chances of getting my story into print. Most importantly, the shortlisting is vindication that I can write for kids. This is good news because I really enjoy writing for them. And I’m hoping one day to find myself walking into a school, or library, or bookshop, with my book in hand, ready to read some of it out.

This journey stretches out ahead of us. We don’t know where or what the final destination is; we don’t know when we might reach it; we have no clue where we might find ourselves along the way. Together with my trusty manuscript though, I intend to enjoy the ride. It’s been pretty exciting so far.

Please excuse my absence…

I’ve been away from my blog for so long that it’s entirely possible in my many months of absence, people have given up on blogging and have moved on to the next big thing in social media.

What’s that? They have?



Never mind.

Blogging might have become the betamax of modern living, but I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet.

The reason I’ve been neglecting my blog was due to a self-imposed ban. I had a project to finish and the only way to do it was to prevent myself wasting spending time on here.

The result is this:

This is what 8 months away from a blog can achieve!

This is what 8 months away from a blog can achieve!

I am now the owner of a completed third draft of a children’s novel. It’s unedited and yet to be proof read, but it is finished.

I have employed a small team of readers (zero hours contracts ; they read; I pay them nothing) who are on deadlines of their own. They need to read and provide feedback before the end of the month when I intend to enter this pile into a competition.

There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. I’ve always found them essential from school days through to now. Without them, projects linger and languish until dust covers them and time forgets them.

My self-imposed exile from my blog ensured that this is one project which stands a chance (slim, I know) of seeing the light of day*.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I might even get to blog again.

* For “light of day” read “publisher’s desk”.

Publication Day.

It’s a day all writers hope to see; a day to dream about, sitting at a desk, staring into space. A day which often seems impossible, unlikely, unobtainable. A day to confirm the belief in yourself which you don’t always possess.

First Publication Day.


Not for me the Fourth of July.
Et ce n’est pas le14 juillet. Non.

I haven’t been hoping year after year, month after month, day after long day, for independence; I’ve been waiting for publication. To see my name in print; in a book.

And so, the 17th July will henceforth be referred to chez flyingscribbler as ‘Publication Day’.

Ok, so it’s not my book per se. I’ve yet to publish anything bearing my name on the cover, ( something, naturally, I hope to put right in days, months, years to come), but I’m more than happy to settle for two of my stories to appear in a short story collection.


So I won’t be earning a penny from sales. This is not important. If I’d wanted to earn a living from writing, I would have given up ages ago….a report last week said your average published writer earns £11,000 a year from their toil. This is so far below the minimum wage as to make it practically worthless.
Sales of the anthology of winning stories in the Words with Jam ‘Bigger’ short story competition instead go to that publication (check it out, do), and to amazon.

But I don’t care. I’m currently on cloud nine, basking in my small degree of success; intending to celebrate in rather bigger style, almost certainly out of proportion to my achievement.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned since picking up my pencil, it’s that even the tiniest success must be celebrated.

Is that a cork I hear popping?

Incidentally, if you wish to add to Amazon’s groaning sack of cash, oh, and read my two stories, the book is “An Earthless Melting Pot”, published by Words with Jam,  (

Justin N Davies. Writer.