The art of rejection

Glamorgan student Amy Lloyd tells all about her adolescent attempts at creative writing, successful or otherwise …

letters


by Amy Lloyd


The room has been mostly abandoned and used only once every month or so when I take the time to come and visit my father and stay the night before going back home. Though it has been stripped of nearly everything valuable or useful, a lot of things still sit stacked in each corner and an entire wardrobe full of junk “still needs to be sorted out or else it’ll all just be put in a skip”, which is fine, I don’t mind … but it’s still there month after month, being moaned about …

This is an adolescent’s room and I feel myself regress every time I step back inside. The walls – yellow (ugh) – are plastered with mementos; flyers, cards, notes, photos, drawings, badges, tickets and even chopsticks all Blu-Tacked solid. If you try to pull them away they take the paint with them, much to my father’s misery, and so they stay put.

Every thing on every wall is important: the five dollar bill I had left after New York, the laminated script I stole from the telesales office I worked in for two days. I’m not sure when or why I stopped tacking every detail of my life to the wall but these walls are covered in history and as much as it offends my father’s eyes I’m pretty sure it makes me a bit of an artist. Chopsticks! On the wall! If that isn’t fascinating I don’t know what is.

Amongst the real memories and loved doodles of close friends are items placed there with the sole intention of making myself appear edgy. Notably, a pull-out from New Scientist magazine illustrating the effect a nuclear blast would have using Covent Garden as ground zero. The cartoon shows terrified people scrambling amongst the chaos and a diagram indicates the varying levels of damage the blast and fallout would cause at a given radius. Yes, when people see this on my wall they know just how dark and edgy I really am.

Arguably the most embarrassing remnant of my past life is still The Rejection Letter. As a teenager I wrote a novel. Well, most of a novel. I was so confident with my work so far I felt it necessary to start shopping for an agent; I set about it all very professionally, inserting one of those Copyright symbols on every page for legal security, printing a short letter about myself emphasising how young I was – surely a prodigy! I would be snatched up, then the movie deals would start rolling in – OK, I’d say, but we must use British actors. I would still remember my country when I was hitting the big time.

The manuscript – as yet untitled – was sent to three or four of what I considered ‘humble’ agencies. I spent much time daydreaming about the agent sitting at his desk, working late again, just making ends meet, when he finally reaches my envelope in the pile. I pictured his face as he turns the pages, eyes wide. He picks up the phone and calls his wife, “Honey, get steak for dinner, it finally happened! We’re gonna be rich!”

I was prepared for the inevitable wait and used the time productively, fantasising about what panel shows I might make it on to when I had my name made for myself. I thought I would definitely go for ‘QI’ but ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ might be a little downmarket intellectually, though I would always remain a fan, I wouldn’t be a snob after all.

Months later, though, I was starting to feel a little under-appreciated. I had been planning to finish the novel within the year but between the time spent on my famous author fantasies and my duties as a bassist in a marginally successful band I had to put the novel on the back burner. In fact, I had almost entirely forgotten about it when a fat envelope slapped the pine floor one morning. Baffled, I opened it only to find I had been rejected. Can you imagine! Fools, puh. Indeed I sat down right away to read my novel and point out all the genius bits they missed.

Except … yikes. Ugh.

Page after page, it just kept getting worse. Even when I thought I’d hit rock bottom, a new low would reveal itself. I couldn’t even finish, I didn’t want to get to that bit with the car crash. I stuffed it under the bed and lay foetal, imagining those other copies still out there. I imagined them being passed around at the office, everyone guffawing and highlighting their favourite bits. I wasn’t just a hack and a failure, I was the Ed Wood of literature, my hands should be cut off lest I ever butcher another innocent word.

The manuscript remains under the bed to this day, with all my old diaries and sketchbooks. You won’t believe me but I just pulled it out for the first time in years. It is twenty-six pages long and something has been spilled on it long ago – possibly my own tears of shame – and it’s every bit as bad as I remember it.

This room isn’t home anymore; I finally made the move to study creative writing at university. At twenty-four it’s looking less likely every year that I might be a child prodigy but I remain optimistic.

When I look back, this room is my own museum at its best and a hall of shame at its worst.


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