I have launched into book three.
It's strange starting work on this novel with two unpublished works behind me. It is an exercise in faith; to keep writing into the void, wondering if anyone will ever read it other than my agent.
My first two books were rejected across the board by publishers as they were deemed to be too 'quiet' for the current market. I, personally, love quiet. John McGahern's 'That They May Face the Rising Sun' is my favourite book of all time, and in it, nothing happens. It doesn't even have chapters; it is one long, slow, gorgeous unfolding of the ordinary, that in its deceptive simplicity embraces all the diversity of life. I could read Colm Toibin all day - a writer whose "monkish" style is often seen as lacking in narrative, but, in my view, his work couldn't lack anything less. It is teeming with everyday truth that hits the mark far closer than an epic ever could. Most epics - there are exceptions, of course - tend to gloss over the subtleties and nuances of life. They are loudspeaker brash, entertaining and page turning, yes, but I personally find that works like these quickly fade from memory after the last full stop, whereas the quiet ones - it is always the quiet ones - linger on.
In saying all that, after more than seven years of work with nothing outward to show for it, I am getting a little tired. I remind myself of the many stories of other writers' diversity: Donal Ryan, whose work took years to get noticed, and was - thankfully - saved from the slush pile by an angel; Eimear McBride, whose outstanding debut, 'A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing', endured nine years - NINE years - in unpublished obscurity before a new publishing start-up bravely took it on, and readers everywhere thank them for that. It is impossible to read these works and not wonder at how they were rejected time and time again when they are so clearly first-rate, but it happens. It even happened to J. K. Rowling - and there are many a publisher and literary agent who are kicking themselves today over that.
So, I'll hold out. I'll keep at it; keep carrying the fire, as Cormac McCarthy advises. Perhaps years down the line I'll still be here watching from the sidelines, holding out for my moment of deliverance, watching other authors debut and move onto their second and third and fourth. Or perhaps, with one or two explosions and some cross-dressing thrown in, it will be third time lucky for me.
Anyway, when it does happen, you're all invited to the launch. See you there. (Fingers crossed.)
Photo credit @ Christina Bivona
RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.