Rejection – or, Moving On

 

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Rejection.   It’s something we all fear, I guess.  We are born craving acceptance – if we are not accepted we will die.  Or at least be put up for adoption.  Writers are no different in this respect to new born babies.  Or maybe we are more like the loving mothers urging our offspring on to others and not able to see if its not really as beautiful as we think.

It’s no secret that I have had a bad review for my book on Amazon.  I had known that sooner or later it would happen, but when it did, being pre-warned was no help.  I went through the usual stages of grief:  I started with a kind of ‘so what’ shrug, then went into a depression and a downward spiral, felt like everything I wrote was worthless and what was the point anyway, I was surely kidding myself I could write?  I asked a Facebook contact, who is a very well-established, successful and admired writer, what do you do, how do you deal with this?  She told me what I already knew.  You can’t please everyone.

The thing is, it would be so easy to try to change yourself, your style, your genre, everything, in order to please the one or two dissenters who don’t get you or your writing and probably shouldn’t have read it in the first place.  If you are a lover of fantasy or paranormal fiction, I don’t understand why you would choose to read something totally different and then complain that its different?  That’s like going to a book shop and asking for sausages.

So I got over it.

To begin with, I don’t flatter myself I have universal appeal, and just as there are books I would not enjoy reading, I realise that my books may not appeal to everyone.  I have to be myself.  I’ve tried writing the ‘proper’ way, as I was taught by a number of well-meaning and in some cases, very successful writers and teachers of writing.  But I have to be me (visualise someone running down the road into a golden sunset, arms outstretched in triumph, singing “I Gotta Be Me – just gotta be free”) – I need to write to be happy and also I need to be happy to write, so I set aside the slings and arrows and choose not to let them hurt me or distract me from what I am trying to achieve.

I’m now moving on.

 

 

 

Neolithic Village imagined

HIF 2010 178 (1)

The corridors linking the houses are dark, black-dark, and yet the children run back and forth giggling and jostling as children have always done.  They barely pause in their running with the narrows and curves of the corridors.  They laugh in and out of the houses, running amongst the groups, tribes, families.  Outside, beyond the houses, the sea and the wind roar, and strange creatures prowl the earth.  But not in here.

In the houses themselves, the central hearth is the main light and although bright enough to prepare the food by, the illumination doesn’t reach to the farthest parts of the room where the animals are safely housed against thick stone walls.  Their soft noises and comfortable smells lull the elders who sit by the fire to prod the embers or stir the cooking-pot by turns.

Soon the eye becomes accustomed to the dimness and it is possible to see not just vague shadows but the bodies of the cattle in their pens, or the shapes of the drawings in the sand of the fireside floor, the simple outlines that accompany the story that is being told.  A half-grown child, listening to the stories with wide eyes, is given instructions and items of interest are brought from the dresser to the one who speaks, who holds each thing up for all to see and recounts all that is known, the history of the item, the way it happened to be found or created, all that makes it special is told now to those who are gathered.  They’ve heard it before.  Even last night. But still they all look and a discussion takes place, even the child speaks.  He will be a fine man one day soon.  They look on him with pride.  One day, he will be the teller of stories.

The food is passed round, grain and meat and fish and coarse bread, flat and hot from the stones by the fire.  Everyone eats and a strange hush falls over the house for a time.  There is a ritual about eating.  There is a ritual about being in the safety of a warm and solid home with the cattle and the fire.  To be with the kinfolk and listen to the stories. This is what it means to be at home.

It is evening, the day has drawn to its close and everyone is gathered in the safe warmth of the roundhouse. Nearby, there are other houses, with other people gathered, and the children are the running link between them.  More stories are told, more conversation and discussion over the nature of the stars and their brightness, of the tides of the sea, of the path of the moon who guides the hunters and blesses the crops.

And nearby, in another such house, the bones of the ancestors are keeping watch over the living. The ancestors listen to the old stories and smile as the brightness of the moon creeps in at the doorway of their resting chamber.