Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
Read the rejection email. Do not tally how many of these you’ve received. Instead, remind yourself J.K. Rowling was rejected by every publisher in London. Google that quaint rejection letter Orwell received for Animal Farm (the one that states there isn’t a market for animal stories in America). Pretend you can find that funny right now.
Go to the kitchen. Bend yourself in half and place your head on the work surface. Even though it’s unhygienic. In fact, revel in being unhygienic. You’re a reject. The rules don’t apply to you anymore. Look down at your socks. Bright and sickening against your muted kitchen tiles. Wonder if there will come a day when you can’t afford new socks. Contemplate busking. Or drawing caricatures. Or putting on a one-act, one-woman play down on the high street. You’ve always been creative. Sometime, some day, that’ll lead to something good.
Go to the library. Look for an author in your genre. Read the first page of their book and underline all of the adverbs with your thumb. Point them out to the lady behind the help desk who smells of black liquorice. And the guy in the leather jacket who hangs out in the Women’s Studies section. Decline the drugs he offers to sell you. If you can’t afford new socks, you can’t afford drugs. You can numb the pain later with a six pack from Lidl. Complain that the book in your hand contains adverbs and still got published. Watch liquorice lady purse her lips. Watch leather jacket guy shrug. Leave.
Check your email. Open the new message from one of the agents you submitted to. Is it a rejection? No. It’s an out of office. Nice of them to let you know they’re at Frankfurt Book Fair. There’s still hope on that one. Refresh the page. And again. Nothing. They must still be in Frankfurt.
Phone a person you know but don’t really like and ask them out for coffee. Let them talk for ninety seconds about their cat. Ask to see a picture. Tell them their cat looks like an agent who rejected you last week. Spend the next hour listing books that are rubbish. Watch your friend pretend to get an emergency phone call. Watch them leave, gathering their lip gloss, catnip and paw-print wallet in haste. Walk home in the rain.
Write a poem about how angry the term ‘slush pile’ makes you. Consider chanting it out at the local open-mic night. Decide it doesn’t quite have enough zest.
Google a Z-list celebrity. In particular, research what they got paid to write their last autobiography. Tell yourself how much more inspirational your autobiography would be. Who doesn’t want to read about your thrilling years working at the Happy Shopper in Harrogate? It’d be a portrait of an era. An ode to the downtrodden.
Open your manuscript in Word. Add ten adverbs to the first page out of spite. Grin. Delete them.
Listen to J.K. Rowling on Desert Island Discs. Decide you’re glad she wound up with all the success and you wound up with a gas bill you’re not sure if you can pay. She is an all-round better person than you. An all-round better person than anyone you know, in fact. Decide to write a poem about that. Get stuck after rhyming her name with ‘bowling.’
Lie on the living room floor in the foetal position. Resist the urge to suck your thumb. Try to breathe. Try to remember why you write. It’s not a choice, is it? It’s a lust. An involuntary spasm of the hand and heart. If you don’t tell stories, you’ll die. And funerals are expensive. It’s cheaper to be a writer than be six-feet under. Try, instead, to be reborn. After all, tomorrow is another day. And that agent might, by then, be back from Frankfurt.