Monday, February 1, 2010

More Grit and Determination ...

Well, the weather caught many people out again this weekend. The forecast snow scheduled to appear sometime during Saturday and Sunday gatecrashed South Shropshire a little early and arrived Friday afternoon, taking many people by surprise.

By 5.30pm Friday evening, the hilly road that I live on was covered in snow, and the office workers were attempting to get home. Two cars in particular found themselves in difficulty. One managed to get as far up the hill as outside my house, then lost traction and spent five minutes revving the engine causing lots of of wheelspin, lots of noise (do you mind - there's a writer trying to work here!) and only achieving a highly polished look to the ice on the tarmac. Eventually the driver realised she wasn't going anywhere, took her foot off the accelerator, and I watched in horror as her car slid back down the hill. Thankfully, the kerb caught her where the road bends and brought her to a stop. (The kerb at that spot hasn't always been that successful.)

Seconds later, another car driver attempted to climb the hill, but got stuck in exactly the same spot. More wheel spinning, followed by more road polishing, eventually resulted in this driver giving up too, and allowing gravity to take over, pulling the car back down the hill.

Thankfully, the earlier driver had managed to move her car so she wasn't squashed when the second driver rolled back down the hill, but rather inexplicably in my opinion, she made another attempt at driving up the road. Unsurprisingly, she only got as far as she had last time, before minutes more of wheel-spinning followed, until she gave up and rolled back down the hill again. I couldn't believe it when the second driver then decided to make another attempt!

With all this wheel-spinning going on, I went to my garage and got the small bucket of grit I keep to hand, and spread some on the road, which was now mirror-like, thanks to the polishing efforts of a couple of Goodyears and some Pirellis. Stamping the grit into the ice, I then waved the drivers up for their third attempt.

Moving as far away from the road as I could (knowing what cars have done before on this section of road) I watched as the first driver made it up as far as my house, skidded slightly before gripping the grit and then managing to plough on up the hill. With her safely out of the way, the second driver then made his third attempt, and successfully made it home.

Does this happen with your writing? Do you find it keeps getting rejected? If so, what are you doing to change it? In the example above, both drivers repeated the same mistake. Nothing had changed between the first time they attempted the hill and their second attempt. When you get a piece of work back, rejected, don't just print it out and send it off to the next publisher on your list. Something needs to change, in order for it to succeed. Both drivers only succeeded, once I'd made a change and gritted the road.

Review your text. Does the opening grab the reader's attention, or could it be stronger? Are you sending it to the right market? Does your text speak to the majority of the readers? Are you sending it to a market that accepts freelance submissions? I had a non-fiction book proposal returned to me on Friday, and already I've rewritten it to fit the catalogue of the next publisher on my list. I've changed it.

So, just like those car drivers trying to make it up the hill on Friday evening, we writers need to be a determined bunch. But we also need a bit grit every now and then too, to have the courage to review our text and change things, before we make another attempt up that hill!

Good luck!