By Farzana Hakim
A ginormous warm welcome from me, Farzana, your host, for this, the very first ‘Thursday Connectors’ of 2021. And what big hopes we have for the new year, huh? After the long lockdowns and devastations of 2020, my only wish is that we all have a healthier and much happier year.
Although we’re in lockdown again and the heartbreaks and number of Covid cases are dangerously high, let’s lift our spirits by continuing to write to keep our hearts content. It’s important to remain positive, and being creative is the ideal way to do this.
Therefore, today I am connecting with some fabulous local writers whose submissions have most definitely cheered me up. I’m sure you’ll also enjoy and appreciate them.
First up is Lucy Kaufman, with a poem that is total genius. It’s one us writers seeking representation can relate to one hundred per cent. It’s quirky and fun but also true, as Lucy collated each line from her own rejection emails from literary agencies.
Hi, Lucy. Let’s connect:
Thank you for your submission
Many thanks for your submission
Thank you for sending us a sample of your above book
For giving us the opportunity to consider your work
For sending me your work
For sending this material
For giving us the opportunity to read your material
For allowing us to consider your submission
This is such a lovely letter!
I really appreciate you writing to me.
I’ve now read the opening to the novel
We enjoyed reading your work
I very much enjoyed reading your chapters
Your characters are vividly drawn and your concept is original
I do think it is done very well
Gillian is completely convincing
As is the portrayal of school life
You write fluently with good background details
There’s a lot to love here.
Having considered it carefully
Having considered your work
After careful consideration
After very careful consideration
After extensive consideration
I’m afraid though
I’m afraid on balance
I am sorry to say
Unfortunately for me
I’m afraid this is not for us.
It isn’t suitable for us.
Sadly, it’s not for us.
I’m afraid we’re going to pass.
It feels too slight
You need a much stronger plot
I don’t think the sporting theme is enough
And sport does not grab me.
It doesn’t quite grab my imagination
It’s just not my sort of book
I don’t feel passionately enough about it
We need to feel really passionate about a writer’s work
I must follow my instinct
And pass on this occasion
We do not feel it is something we could place successfully
I regret this is not something I could successfully handle
I just didn’t feel quite gripped enough
To absolutely fall in love with your writing.
We do not feel we are the right agency.
It’s a novel outside my comfort zone.
I’m sure you’ll understand
That the extremely high volume of submissions I receive
We receive so many unsolicited manuscripts
We receive over 600 manuscripts a week
We can only take a select number of debut writers a year
We have to be incredibly selective
This is a subjective industry
Our focus is on those manuscripts we feel passionately about
We are taking very little at present
I am not the right agent to work with you
I do not feel it’s right for my list
We do not feel we could add you to our list
This is the opinion of one agency alone
Others may feel differently
Another agent may well feel differently.
You might do better approaching female agents.
Sorry to disappoint
I’m sorry to disappoint
We are extremely sorry to disappoint
I’m really sorry to be so disappointing
I am really sorry to be cautious
Do try other agents
Do please continue to try other agents
Who may see something we’ve missed
Good luck placing it elsewhere
We wish you all the best
I wish you every success
I wish the best of luck with other agents
We wish you the very best of luck in future.
All my best,
With best wishes,
All best wishes,
(c) Lucy Kaufman, 2021
Connect with Lucy on Twitter: @lucykaufman
I told you it was genius!
Next up is a short story from Clare Cooper, team member but also former deputy fiction editor of Women’s Weekly. She’s definitely brought some of her experience into this tongue-in-cheek piece, making me laugh! For some, a new year equals a new resolution to start writing a novel; here’s maybe what not to do….
Hi, Clare. Let’s connect:
Ticking All The Boxes
Daisy Drummond sighed as she gazed from the window of her five-bedroom, eight-bathroom luxury executive new-build on the edge of a thriving town, with beautiful countryside and the sea handily close by, and positively brimming with community spirit and artisan small businesses. After winning several million on the Lottery, selling her poky suburban flat, leaving her dismal, lowly-paid office job, ditching her abusive, sleeping-around two-timing rat of a boyfriend and moving to this idyllic spot (voted the best place to live in the country three years in a row by the readers of Country Life and Woman’s Weekly), time seemed to hang heavy on her hands.
She’d joined every local club going and volunteered her services to all the charity shops and organic, eco-friendly craft cafes in town. But, somehow, despite all this, once the thrill of furnishing her new home and landscaping her large garden had faded, she was left with a strange, unnerving feeling of – dare she admit it? – loneliness.
Her friends all lived in her old town and still worked full-time, not having been as fortunate as she, and were often too busy at weekends to meet up. She’d fallen out with her feuding family. They didn’t even know of her good fortune. She knew they would be jealous and unpleasant about it. Easiest not to say anything and leave no forwarding address.
Perhaps she should get a dog? Two, maybe? Three, even? She would start looking for nearby rescue centres, and… wait! What was that? She’d seen movement from the corner of her eye. It came from the bottom of the garden, which backed onto woodland. Could it be those witches everyone had warned her about when she first moved here? The ones that had conveniently been omitted from the estate agent particulars and who allegedly hung out in the old deserted tabernacle in the woods? She’d avoided exploring there so far, but often felt as though she was being watched…
Local tales abounded: of haunted stately homes and headless horsemen galloping heedlessly up and down the High Street, of UFOs and battling, far-away galaxies circling the skies above them, of missing persons and dead bodies washed up on the nearby beach, of local bad-boy-turned-DJ at ‘Shenanigans’ night club, on the edge of town, who had a knack for finding and rescuing young women on the run from abusive family relationships, and of their local attorney, currently being blamed for the murder of her husband’s mistress.
Sherlock Holmes, if he could only tear himself away from 221b Baker Street, London, would find cases galore to keep him occupied for the rest of his days! There was enough fodder in this one small place for a series of bestselling novels. Perhaps she could try to write them? It would certainly give her something to do. Just so long as they didn’t get the covers mixed up…
(c) Clare Cooper, 2021
Connect with Clare on Twitter: @ClareLouCoop
Thank you, Clare.
Next up we have a poem from Matt Wixey, which I thought was also apt to share as part of our new year, new hopes celebrations.
Hi, Matt. Let’s connect:
Learning New Lines
Always watched a lot of films and
do you remember the lines?
You know the lines.
The classic movie magic lines.
Malcolm saying life ah finds a way
while they stared or
Ripley marching in shouting
get away from her you bitch.
I’ll have what she’s having or
as far back as I can remember
I always wanted to be a gangster.
It was you Charlie or
I know it was you Fredo or
We cried every time at that one.
Brody needed a bigger boat in Jaws or Jules
with that wonder:
royaaale with cheese and then like thunder
I dare ya I double-dare ya motherfucker
say what one more goddamn time.
You had me at hello and
no I am your father so
here’s looking at you kid and
heeeere’s Johnny and
you talkin to me?
Nobody puts Baby in a corner and
Farmer Hoggett so proud: that’ll do pig.
Staff Sergeant Barnes
his face twisted and scarred
snarled what y’all know about death.
To infinity and beyond and
A thousand lines a thousand times.
Magic words and I know them all
We all do.
And the promise was if we kept them
held them safe and sacred and
chanted them like incantations and
put them on posters prints
and desktop wallpapers
they would never fade with repetition.
They would ring true for us
But now these times,
with so much time.
Staring at the screen at 4am
alone with blank eyes
you hear those same lines
Flimsy dead worn thin like old tape.
The magic used up.
These lines don’t belong and don’t make sense.
Now the lines no-one noticed,
obscure lines no-one quotes,
they have all the power.
The awe in Grant’s voice when he says
it’s a dinosaur, like he’s a kid again or
when Ripley says Newt’s name with such love.
Read the last page first so if you die
you know the ending.
Morrie singing Danny Boy not knowing he’s already dead
because Jimmy at the bar smoking has a plan.
Isn’t everybody a part of everybody else?
Don Ciccio isn’t afraid of Vito’s words
because who’s afraid of words but
Frodo tells Sam to go home, and you hear how it kills him.
Brody asks his son for a kiss because he needs it and
Mia Wallace said shut the fuck up for a minute and
Dorothy’s great guy loves her kid and likes her.
I love you. I know.
Rick never makes plans that far ahead and
Wendy says the hotel is like a ghost ship.
Travis and Betsy said they’d be friends.
Baby was scared of who she was and
Babe didn’t know his own name.
Big Harold hunches over as he says
I don’t know brothers
but I’m hurting real bad inside.
This is the perfect time to panic.
Jim Lovell saying
try to figure out
how to stay alive.
(c) Matt Wixey, 2021
Connect with Matt on Twitter: @wixeywrites and his website wixeywrites.com
That’s all, folks. I hope you enjoyed our New Year connectors and could relate to them as much as I did.
Wherever you are in your writing journey, always remember to never doubt yourself or give up. We at Write On! and Pen To Print are always on the lookout for new talent and welcome your submissions to showcase on all our pages.
Also, please don’t forget to sign up for my ‘Hear My Voice’ Workshops, which begin in February as part of Pen to Print’s initiative to get more women into creative writing and to make it more accessible for them to tell and share their stories. Writing has given me a sense of empowerment, and I’ll be running these online workshops to help other women find their voice, giving them the chance to publish their writing on my Thursday Connectors page. How exciting is that?
Click on this link to register to Workshop One, remembering you need to sign up and get e-tickets for each workshop separately. I’m already looking forward to seeing you there!
Thank you. Until I connect with you again, stay safe and stay in.
Issue 6 of Write On! magazine is available online, with Issue 7 out tomorrow (22nd Jan)!
Let’s lift our spirits by continuing to write to keep our hearts content. It’s important to remain positive, and being creative is the ideal way to do this.