Notes on Rejection.

Rejection of your writing is the the best thing that can happen. It says you’re doing something correct. Something right. When people reject something they are afraid of it. They don’t know what it is, they don’t understand what it’s about, and they don’t have the courage to follow through and find out. The majority of publishers/agents want a sure thing. They want something perfect, relevant to the current market, something that will sell, has been unseen and has come from a compliant, malleable writer. They want to make money. They’d like to see your book stacked alongside thousands of bookshelves in bookshops all over the country – and know they are getting 40 percent of each copy sold. Sleeping well in their beds in the sure knowledge that they will never break new ground, never write an original line, never have a reader sit on the edge of their seat or be devastated with fictional heartbreak. They know, deep down, that they are not creative people but have something else – they have the audacity to exploit those that do create. Somewhere along the line it became acceptable for writers to be regarded as quirky, anti-profit, scatterbrained losers that are looking for somebody organised and trustworthy to come and do all the business for them. Writers then began to buy into this idea and became dependent on the publishing industry to dictate their success or lack of it. We now have a situation where the status quo of traditional publishers is to be a bouncer at the creative door where only the mundane is let in – because that’s what sells. We can’t have the pubic confused. We can’t have the public excited. We must tell them what they already know. Add credence to the reality that already exists. There is no room for new boundaries, to bend language or test genre. No, that doesn’t sell, they say. It won’t sell, they say. It’s not the business we’re in, they say. And you are rejected because you are different, and you have something to say, and somebody ought to be hearing it. But you think the only way forward is blocked and their opinion has shot your confidence down and now the world is an artistically poorer place. Because you were rejected. But what you don’t realise is that rejection is acceptance. You are pushing the boundaries and they don’t know what to do. How to respond. What to say. They can’t handle you and they’re worried about their forty percent. If it wasn’t books they’re selling it would be something else – cars, food, computers. Doesn’t matter because they don’t care. It’s all a sale to them. A profit and a loss. That’s why they are confounded now. You are an unknown quantity. What will the bookshops say? The reviewers? The printers? Oh no, no thanks. But you are not for sale. You are not malleable. And you don’t have a choice. You are a vessel to the truth the world needs to hear.

Notes on dialogue.

Some nights, as the writer’s about to go to sleep, she hears a voice. Something random. A snippet, a tannoy announcement, a passing comment, an opinion from a radio presenter. It invades her thoughts loudly, briefly and unannounced and is then gone. As time goes on, the voices become more frequent. More direct. They form sentences. People she doesn’t recognise. At first it’s one, then two, then three people are talking. Conversing. Sometimes arguing. They don’t wait until night anymore. It’s day time now. At work, on the bus, in the car, walking down the street. They’re shouting to be heard. They have opinions on politics, culture, society. They have a past, desires, regrets and hopes. They have fears and wonders. She feels it all. The empathy. As they talk amongst themselves about that accident, that illness, that day their kids were born she listens, eavesdropping in her own mind, feeling the joy, and heartbreak and concern. On social occasions she suffers from disassociation, a low throb, apparent deafness. People talk and say things. They make comments, ask questions, probe her about her life but she can’t properly hear them. The plates clatter, but from a dulled distance. The lights are bright, but obscured by grey noise. Everything she touches feels like rubber. The words people say are proper words but don’t make proper sense. She can’t filter, assimilate the information, she can’t engage because she has the conversations going. And going. And going. At first, it’s a concern. A mental illness? A brain issue? But she doesn’t think so. It’s something else. Because it has a burn attached. A physical urge to do something with the information, the stories, the tales, the fascinating lives. It’s a delicious secret in some ways. This other world, these other people, this other universe where strangers meet to exorcise, to explore, to vent, pontificate, relieve the burden of their conscience. And then one day it’s too much, too loud, there is no room to think, no space to talk, no chance of work. She must do something, address this crowd and see what it is they want. And it soon becomes obvious. They want to be recorded, to be listened to and written down. To be put into context and order. They want their lives to have a meaning, a story to be told, a chapter of their existence allowed into the physical world. She begins with a line. The first line she hears. It seems the best place to start. As the room goes silent and the white noise of reality is blocked out she listens, and she hears it, and records.

*

Poor Craytures.

Got the call to go down to Marian. She wanted to sign up. I was in the area. How am I fixed?

This was good news on a bad Friday. Needed a fast sale and get home. Marian sounded the type that could just sign up, tick all the boxes, and the weekend could sing.
Got there and she invited me in with a flurry. ‘Come in! Come in….come in. I’ve been waiting for ye!’

‘Great.’

‘Sit down,’ she said. ‘This other crowd are robbin me.’

‘That’s what we like to hear.’

‘And I have a wedding you know?’

‘You do?’

‘I do. Tomorrow. A wedding. And I got this bill in the door – how am I supposed to pay it?’

‘Tis high alright.’

‘And I’ve no work.’

‘No?’

‘No. I used to have a great job but it closed down. I was a manager in a shop.’

‘Which shop?’

‘It was a high end clothes shop. Really expensive stuff. Someone like you probably wouldn’t know it.’

‘You’re probably right.’

‘And then it closed and I have zero. Zilch. Nothin. And a wedding tomorrow.’

‘Who’s getting married?’

‘Oh it’s a distant cousin on my husband’s side. But you have to go. Show face. We’re not paupers. You know?’

‘What’s the address here so?’

She gave it to me, I typed it in. She made herself a coffee. Didn’t offer me one. Sat back down, asked: ‘Are ye cheaper?’

‘We are.’

‘That’s good. I have to put €200 in a card this evening.’

‘For the wedding?’

‘Yeah. And we had to tax the car, pay for the holiday and I have to get my hair done yet.’

‘Flat out.’

‘I’m telling you. And by the time you buy a few drinks, pay for the hotel, and the day after, and all the rest of it. Oh my God….’

‘And no sign of work at all?’

‘Not a thing. I’ve been looking and looking and looking and asking everybody. It’s terrible.’

‘Tis. What’s your bank details?’

She called them out, went on with: ‘This government is a disgrace.’

‘That’s one word for them.’

‘The economy is supposed to be booming. Jobs everywhere. Where are they?’

‘Hard to know. Sign there.’

She signed. I told her about the contract, all that. She waved her hand, said: ‘Yeah…go on go on…do you like this job?’

‘I do.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Oh.’

A knock on the door. Then a woman entered. Brazilian. Two kids. Big smile. Marian said: ‘Hi…Sonza…’

‘Hi, Marian.’ Said Sonza. ‘Do you still have…’

‘Oh yes. The bag, the bag. Of course. Hang on….’ She looked at me. ‘Are you alright there for a second?’

‘Sound.’

Marian went off. Came back with a black bag full of clothes. ‘Here you go, Sonza. Lovely to see ye. Are you calling around for lunch on Monday?’

‘Ok…’

‘That’d be lovely….please do.’

‘Ok. Bye. I see you.’

‘Bye…..’

Sonza left. Marian sat down. Rolled her eyes, conspiratorially, said: “Poor craytures.’

‘How do ya mean?’

‘I do give them all the old…crap we don’t want. Stuff I’d never use and can’t rid off. It was either that or dump it. Sure what can you do?’

‘What can you do?’

‘It’s the likes of all them refugees that are taking the jobs anyway. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a racist or anything…’

‘Sign there again so and we’re finished.’

‘Oh great. Thanks. Then I’ll go and start getting ready for this bloody wedding.’

‘Do. And if you’re still looking for a job next week give us a shout. We’re hiring.’

‘Doing what? Your job? This?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t be seen dead doing your job.’