Friday, 15 February 2013

Prepare for the Unexpected

In the film "Field of Dreams," the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson said: "But watch out for the one in your ear!" He was answering a question about how to expect the next baseball to be pitched, high and light or low and away. It's a phrase that I guess could apply to most of what life throws at you and the situations we find ourselves in.

Don't ask me why but I have a profound love of baseball, which is an unusual thing for an English author. From the moment I heard the crack of leather hitting the hickory sweet spot, I fell in love with the game. It's odd really, because I hated playing rounders at school but who can compare that with baseball?

The phrase also applies to any budding author who has finished their novel, polished it so that it shines and has great expectations. Watch out for the "one in the ear!" When the rejections start coming through the post and you read them, it can feel as though someone has thrown you a curve ball and its knocked you off your feet.

Remember this: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishers, more than any other bestselling book. Rejections will take many forms: a postcard, badly photocopied letter, a scribble across your initial pitch letter (look - baseball again!), or even no response at all, silent but deadly.

Throw them away! The rejection may not be a reflection of your work. Publisher criteria varies and you just have to keep at it.

Maybe one day I will get to see a baseball game live, even if it is just a little league in a small US town somewhere. It would be a privilege.