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How a small French boat on a river of champagne saved me

They say the first cut is the deepest, and although I knew rejection would be very much part of the whole finding an agent palaver, I had no idea how I would stomach the words ‘thanks, but no thanks!’ Not very well, as it turned out.

Last Wednesday, when the message that bared the unpleasant news hit my inbox, a whole array of self-diminishing, nagging thoughts took over my thinking. My favourite went something along the lines of ‘Why don’t you stick to what you are good at – have another baby and just be happy with being a housewife, for chrissake!’ It’s funny (well, not really) how one single rejection from one single agent made me question much more than just the idea of myself as a writer. It made me once again question my self-worth based on my current occupation (mother, housewife, homemaker).

All I wanted to do was pull the duvet back over my head and dunk a Hobnob into a cup of tea – which is a bit contra productive when all you should do is dust yourself off, try again and stay away from that biscuit tin (if you actually want to wear a bikini this summer).

But luckily for me, I had been invited to the Petit Bateau flagship store opening in London’s Marylebone that same Wednesday. And I had accepted, so there was no way out. Once the babysitter had arrived, I quickly ran a brush through the ruffled mob on my head, dusted some blusher on my cheeks and left the house with my scarf flapping behind me in the wind. My mood lifted as soon as I turned around the first corner, and by the time I got off the tube at Baker Street, the spring in my step was back and the world looked a lot less bleak.

I was greeted by PR Emily and a glass of champagne, both of which I met with great enthusiasm. Emily showed me around the latest store (gorgeously adorned by Petit Bateau memorabilia like in the picture above), introduced me to the new Petit Bateau polo range (of course, I had to get a pale pink dress for little L) and discretely informed me why that tall girl with the gorgeous face looked so familiar (google Jaquetta Wheeler and you will soon find out).

After another glass of champagne, a few Laduree canapés and some enjoyable chatter with a lovely lady from the Daily Mail (yes, they do exist!), I left the party with the following insights:

  1. This blog is a heaven-sent. It’s fun, support, dialogue and… champagne.
  2. There’s no point in pulling the duvet over your head forever. Just put yourself out there and get on with life.
  3. I am not only good at hatching and popping out little girls; I even know where to buy them cute clothes.
  4. A tipsy-on-champagne Powerplate session is something I will not try again.

29 Comments

  1. Well the thing is that it is really the women who seem to have that inner peace and self worth that has nothing to do with outward validation that I envy the most. To get to that point every day one has to tell oneself to concentrate only on what is good in one’s life and in the past and just leave the rest! Hard to do but i’m still trying.

  2. Love Petit Bateau and planning a trip to London village for a shop before Summer is out too. Chin up, having a roller coaster myself at the moment – trying to learn to dance in the rain! First time here and you write a great blog! Claire x

    Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain! ~Vivian Greene

  3. Sounds like you had a great time! I love petit bateau, it simply is French 🙂
    And don’t give up, you are a bloody good writer and the ones who don’t take the time to acknowledge it yet, will kick themselves when someone else does!

  4. Love the picture – that is how I want my children’s rooms to look! No chance.

    Sounds like the perfect antidote to rejection. Keep plugging away – a door will open for you I’m sure.

  5. Oh how wonderful – I love Petit Bateau stuff, reminds me I must see if my favourite summer outfit from them might fit Littler… but I digress – do not let this push you back, you are fabulous, you are talented and the right agent and the right publisher are out there for you

  6. I love Petit Bateau!

    I’m not so happy about this rejection thought, it sounds extremely rude! Who wants to deal with a rude agent anyway

  7. First, I don’t know why you can’t have more babies and write too. While I wouldn’t say that Stephanie Meyer is the greatest writere int he world, she kept trying and look where it got her. She was regected some many times I am sure she wanted to pull the covers over her head too. In the end someone was willing to give her a chance. I am sure the other book publishers are kicking themselves for missing out on theat opportunity. I love Petite clothes. Simple but darling.

  8. I really admire what you’ve already achieved , and think of all those books that were rejected by many agents before they were accepted. Plus you are making some great contacts being out and about! Good on you!

  9. What a wonderful evening, Petit Bateau is such a lovely brand.

    Good luck for a positive agent response next time!

  10. Glad to hear your spirits were lifted a little with the champagne and some good old retail therapy. And I hope you’ve got your eyes set on another agent too. Don’t give up.

  11. Don’t lose hope, think of that JK Rowling woman hundreds of rejections and look at her now! This sounds a perfect antidote to a brooding bad mood, and as for babies and shopping and housewifeliness- well you can have it all if thats what you want! xx

  12. well that is great that you had something fun planned- and I think the first cut is the deepest- To good news in the future- I’ll clink to that.

  13. ” Courage is being scared to death.but saddling up anyway” sure, corny John Wayne. But keep sending the book out!

  14. @Rose: nooooo, she wasn’t rude, she was perfectly nice. She said in a very nice way that she didn’t want it – and who could blame her? It must be hard for agents, too…

  15. As others have said. All the best writers get rejected first time – and some lots of times. Glad Petit Bateau was there to cheer you up! x

  16. Oooo yes, as many people have said above, rejections are definitely not a judgement on the quality of your work. Keep going and going. There are some great agent blogs out there that helped me understand a bit more what goes on over on their side – makes it a little less difficult. A wee bit less, mind you. x

  17. Mummykimmy says

    I love your attitude, you’ll find your agent soon and then we can all celebrate with you!

  18. I know that I will feel exactly the same way you did which is part of the reason I’m almost too scared to try. But try I will. And yes, champagne cures most things.

  19. Well done you to pick yourself up and carry on. Good luck and agree with the others. Believe in yourself! just found your blog, am enjoying reading it

  20. Awww. Sounds like a fabuous place.
    Rejection is tough and it doesn feel very personal. It makes you question everything – even your mothering skills which it has nothing to do with!
    I had a non-fiction book published about ten years ago. The first response was “Thanks but no thanks.” They said the idea wouldn’t work but its published in three languages now. So they were wrong. Ha! So don’t give up hope. You just need to find the right agent and that takes time. x

  21. Don’t stop trying. You are a fab writer and will find an agent. I know this, I have been reading your blog your years! xx

  22. LOL I would have loved to see a vlog of the tipsy Power Plate session! Don’t sweat the reject, it happens to the best writers (Google it and I’m sure you’ll come up with loads of famous writers’ multiple ‘no thanks’ letters). I’ve had a couple myself, and I know it’s crushing, but you gotta dust yourself and keep going.

    Take your time, I’m sure you’ll find a great agent as you’ve already built a strong platform! x

  23. Hello sweet – don’t give up! You have a style – it was just that one agent didn’t get it. That’s all. KEEP ON! I love that boats and champagne saved you and I agree – blogging is a gift. Thinking of going to the Goodwood Revival this year – is that the one you and your husband attend? Lou x

  24. Boo to the naysayers! Rejection is hard but so many people have been rejected at first only to go on to utter greatness – which you already achieve in my eyes with all that you do! Never give up – most people wouldn’t have been brave enough to put themselves out there in the first place so thats step one done.
    So glad you had that fabulous event to go to… sounds wonderful. Champagne always helps… not so sure about the powerplate session though! xxx

  25. Petit Bateau is a definite cheer up – love their clothing! You have come so far with your writing to be at this point (part of why this rejection feels so rubbish); keep up your belief in all you have achieved and all that is to come when you connect with the right agent.

  26. Oh, I’m sending you a big hug. (Late, but I’ve been hiding out myself a bit.)

    Can I just say that
    1) You’re obviously a good writer because all these people who don’t know me in real life (like me) keep coming back her to read what you have to say (like me).
    2) You’re lovely.
    3) I think you’re amazing for putting yourself out there, because I’m too chicken to even write anything because of the fear of rejection.
    4) Hang in there!

    x

  27. I worked for an agent for a while as a reader and part of my job was to read manuscripts, partials and synopses and make comments and write a report for the agent. From what I learned working with her the rejection letter from the agent is really and truly not a big deal. All it means is that your work isn’t right for her–in which case, she is doing you a favour because she can only effectively sell work to editors that she is really into!

    And there are hundreds of agents. You’ll find someone.

    One tip to get an agent who might be more your type is to look in the thank you sections of books that you love to read, books in the same genre as the book you’ve written and find the names of the authors’ agents. Contact those agents.

    Finding an agent is the same as writing the book–perseverance is the key. x

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