See-saw, Margery Daw,
Johnny shall have a new master;
He shall have but a penny a day,
Because he can’t work any faster.
It will be no surprise to fellow writers that life can be a bit up-and-down. Since my last blog, mine has been absolutely Zebedee/tart’s knickers/ W.H.Y. You’d think that, at my age, and after all these years, the highs and lows would have flattened out somewhat. Not so. A piece of work accepted, a nice review, any small pat on the back, and I’m soaring with the skylarks. A non-response, a rejection, a fewer –than- 5- stars rating, and I’m in the murky depths. The Slough of Despond. The Pit. I am Finished as a Writer. Was I ever any good? Was it all just a fluke?
As March turned towards April and the first botanical tulips brightened the kitchen windowsill, the bleurghh of that long grey winter started to lift and so did my spirits and energy – and optimism. I went into submissions overdrive: poems, a monologue , short plays. Nothing to do now but hover and wait...
Then my poem in the Emma Press ‘Age’ anthology got a marvellous review in Cadaverine (honestly) magazine. Up, up!
Rejections of two of the plays. Down, down, in spite of encouraging messages from both theatres about future work. A rejection is a rejection, right? I then panic and wonder if I had followed instructions for the monologue – look it up and see there should have been certain words in the subject line. Did I? Can’t remember. Try retrieving it from email. Can’t find it. Down, down.
Then a poetry magazine accepted ‘How to paint a snow scene’! Up! I’m shortlisted for a collection of humorous poems! Up again – but wait, it’s only the shortlist. Hover. I don’t hear any more. Down.
I finish re-writing , to Starshine’s specifications, a musical based on one of my picture books and it goes in via the delightful man who wrote the songs. We’re in with a good chance, I think, but they are busy and may not read it for a while. Sigh. Wait. Hover.
The daffodils are out. Shake yourself, woman! I submit, with a colleague, a workshop based round ‘Little Red Ella’. It’s great working collaboratively! Up! I fire off another play. Still up. Workshop people put back the date of the selection as they’ve had so very, very many submissions. Hmmm. Slightly down, and even further when we hear we weren’t successful. Why don’t I find something sensible to do with my time? I buy canvas and start to work a bargello chair seat.
There’s a call-out for plays celebrating Shakespeare. I’ve got one! Up! Short deadline. Never mind. Rush it into post. Feel good about it, even when they say they’ve already had 100 submissions. Then realise I didn’t put a front page on it. Down, down, down. Johnny only gets a penny a day because he can’t work any faster. Fast is no good to me, penny a day or not. I need to slow it down and stop making idiot mistakes!
Sunshine. The garden calls. I plant campanulas, foxgloves, aconites, yellow crocosmia. Forget this writing lark, at least for a day or so. Idling on the computer in the evening, I stumble across a publisher who will take rhyming picture book texts. I’ve got one! Tidy it up, send it off. Up! Three month wait for response, if response there will be. Hover.
Now? Two plays, two lots of poems and a picture book text, all still out there waiting to be judged by anonymous somebodyorothers. Why do it? Because it’s all about the doing of it! That’s where the joy is, the satisfaction, the pride. The see-saw stuff isn’t about the writing, it’s about the publishing, which is a different thing entirely. Hold that thought.