A book was recommended when I went to the Surrey Writer’s Conference entitled “Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us A (Sort Of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected” by Jessica Page Morrell. I spotted it on a table, promptly bought it and have marked it up rather well. She claims that less than one percent of submissions are accepted!

It is written in a funny, friendly, kind of way, albeit with some sharp edges of honesty, as she encourages writers to strive for excellence and avoid the rejection pile. Ms. Morrell is an editor and has read many manuscripts that gave her insights into what to avoid if you hope to get an agent or publisher to notice your work. You want the editor to tell the marketing department that your manuscript is a winner? This book is full of tips to make it happen.

Are you familiar with the 3 Act Structure, plotpoints, backstory, subplots, the ideal length of sentences and paragraphs? Who knew we should find powerful verbs and minimize adverbs? This book begs us to pay attention to our genres, character motivation, prologue and scene development and see this as a worthwile learning process. Ms. Morrell suggests we keep our research ideas in one place, preferably a binder, start a list of words that intrigue us and use the Chicago Manual of Style for reference.

Jessica Morrell says writers should be open to good critique as writing is a craft. She suggests an agent wants to represent someone who is sane so if you have some mental health issues, get help now. If you are writing that first draft quickly, as she recommends, please keep eating, sleeping, and socializing while minimizing substance use as healthy people tend to be the most successful writers. I heartily recommend this book!

WordStorm; a community resource

Suppose an agent and publisher had just accepted your book and wanted you to do a book tour. Are you ready to stand up in front of strangers and read a passage? Might as well begin to practice now!

In my city I discovered WordStorm, a place where writers of all stripes can sign up to read a three minute excerpt from their work. I signed up two minutes before it started by putting my name on the bottom of the list on the table by the door. The audience claps enthusiastically for each reader. There’s then a brief intermission with snacks and then two featured poets/writers shared their creativity. It’s a good way to hear some published authors as they share some of their journey directly.

I can state with clarity that I know what will happen if you never let anyone see your writing. Nothing will happen. Maybe someone will appreciate it once you lose the ability to protest but who knows if you’ll be conscious then to notice.

Begin by reading a passage from your writing to someone in your community. You may get another shy writer to sidle up to you at the break and whisper that they liked your poem. Maybe your bravery will encourage them and you’ll have the honour to have nudged the author of the next great North American novel forward.