A long time ago, I wrote a novel. It took me a year to write it, and I then sent it off expecting a quick reply, a fat cheque and early retirement. What I got instead was a stream of rejection slips, other than two letters, which showed interest and offered encouragement. One was from an agent, who showed great interest, the other from the fiction editor of a large publisher, which has now been swallowed up by a multinational conglomerate. I was invited to rewrite the novel, making specified changes, and resubmit it. I did this. It took me another year, in between renovating a house, teaching English, playing rugby and getting married. I sent off the rewritten version, expecting more speedy replies and an even fatter check. Instead, after quite some time, I received two polite letters. The first one informed me that the agent had died a month earlier and that the agency was dealing with her affairs and unable to take on new clients. The second letter told me that the editor in question had left publishing. I was just a little disappointed and said things such as ‘Oh gosh’ and ‘Dearie me’, as I flung the unread, returned typescripts across the room. I then rushed out of the house and assaulted a man who happened to be walking his dog. For good measure, I kicked the dog too. Ten years later, in between playing rugby, renovating another house, being married, teaching and becoming a father, I rewrote the book, again with no success. Sadly, I couldn’t find an old man or a dog to assault, so I shot the neighbour’s cat instead.
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