Thick skin was always an expression until I became a writer. Writers soon learn just exactly that old adage entails. Kate Foster is here to share her inspiring story and teach us about thick skin.
Once upon a time, in a land where time stood still, there I sat, with Lauren Laptop, a lot of first drafts and even more rejections letters. My skin was thinning, my dream fading, my confidence washing away.
It starts out such fun: anticipation, excitement, and nerves, mixed in with a lot of screen refreshing. But there comes a point when a familiar looking subject line pops into your inbox and you dread opening the email. Been there, seen it, done it. And got a wardrobe full of goddamn t-shirts.
Despite the self doubt issues, however, I’m one hell of a trooper. Something I’m starting to realise most writers are, too!
I wasn’t prepared to crumble under the constant head shaking and avenue closures. So I cracked on; entering contests like Pitchmad and Pitchwars, where, I must add, I met some of my most awesome writer friends, so actually completely worth it despite the zero bites my pitches received. But I also sailed the trad route; subbing to agents and publishers. And, with a ridiculous amount of revising and editing, it’s been this route which finally roused interest in my writing.
In all honesty, I’ve had a fair few Getting the Call/Email experiences over the past couple of years. I’ve even had meetings and a handful of contracts. Straight up. Every one as much a buzz as the next. But, without pounding out every last detail, pear-shaped became the key word. Contracts I was told to avoid signing; publishers shutting their doors; relationships not quite working out. I asked my parents often if I’d been cursed as a small child perhaps, but no.
I could’ve either been a half empty girl, and wailed, ‘Poor me! Look how unlucky I am!’ or a half full girl and said, ‘Someone was watching over me, telling me not to sign.’ I now go with option two.
Because, in truth, as a trust-my-instincts type gal, my gut never settled throughout my run of offers. No real reason ever, but there was always a nagging doubt, plenty of easing off the gas pedal moments. I have a naturally worried soul, true, but this was something different. A strange magnetic backward pull.
But when the email came in from Jet Black, it felt right. I still hesitated; once bitten and all that, but there was a calmness, a focus and an energy that engulfed me each time I considered this new publishing house as the home for my middle grade novel. There was no ‘rewrite the ending and we’ll reconsider’ or ‘Sign the contract and we’ll discuss the changes you need to make’. There was no ‘This will be a bestseller’ or ‘We’ll see how it goes’. It was an enchanting symphony of ‘Your book made us feel like children again. Good job. We want to publish it’. OK, I’ll take two, please!
We bounced the contract back and forth, and they were so accommodating. We discussed ideas for the book, thoughts on areas for tweaking, marketing routes. I was involved from word go. I felt special and part of a secure and safe team of professionals.
The enthusiasm they offered, the patience, the optimism, the passion. It was overwhelming. And it brought home to me why I ever started writing in the first place. Enjoyment. Love. Need. Which I truly believe I lost sight of during those earlier years of submitting.
When I wrote my first words all those years ago, it wasn’t to be the world’s greatest author, or to make a mint from my books. I wrote because I had these stories interfering with my day to day concentration, characters pestering me with classic one-liners they desperately wanted to share, explosive, detailed scenes looking for a way out. So I obliged. And I loved it. I still do.
So, thanks to all the previous Calls, plenty of perseverance, hard work and dedication, a lot of incredible support from friends and family, and to Jet Black Publishing, in just a few short months I will be a published author. I want people to love my words. That’s all.
Kate writes for children; from picture books to middle grade fiction. She is also a freelance editor with a growing list of clients. She volunteers her skills for Ink Pantry Publishing, part of The Open University in the UK, and writes a regular blog for YAtopia. Originally from Kent in the UK, she now lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her family. Her debut novel, Winell Road, will be published by Jet Black in April 2015.