A novel year aka the joy and pain of writing

This time last year, this is what I thought:

2017 going to be the year.

It was going to be The Year of the Novel, or my specifically, The Year of My Novel.

Wherever You Go was going to knock an agent’s socks off and publishers would be clamouring to publish and there’d be a bidding war … okay, that’s going too far. I didn’t quite get that far.

No, what I really thought, my self-confidence boosted by favourable comments from beta readers, was simply that my manuscript would be accepted for publication.

I told myself that by the end of 2017, I’d have a contract for Wherever You Go and the publishing process would be well under way.

It didn’t work out that way. I had several agent knock-backs. I had one publisher knock back.

They weren’t bad rejections, if rejections can be good (I think they can). The agents and publisher were very complimentary about my writing and my story.

They said things like: ‘great grasp of description which really brought your prose alive’, ‘I love your voice and your talent for description’, ‘I loved your writing’ and ‘you’ve painted your characters with depth and heart’.

And each one said they’d really thought a lot about the book and whether it was right for them.

But what they seemed to be implying, without using those exact words, is that they were concerned about the market. ‘Can we sell enough of this book in this already overcrowded marketplace? Can we make money from it?’

That’s what it comes down to. And, even though I want to tell them yesyes people will want to read it, they still said no.

[bctt tweet=”I believe in my story.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]

I do.

But they weren’t so sure that a ‘quiet tale of grief’ about a dissolving marriage following a harrowing loss was going to do that. They wanted more drama.

And yet my other readers, all widely read book-loving authors with published books of their own, loved it.

The no was painful.

I cried.

I sulked.

I struggled with self-doubt.

I got over it.

And started writing novel number two, Wildflower, in the meantime.

I haven’t given up on Wherever You Go. It has a home. It’s just on its journey to find it. Maybe that journey will involve more change. Maybe not. I’m giving it space to breathe while I finish my other story. But one way or another, it will get published, even if I choose to do it myself.

Photographer: Khusen Rustamov


Sometimes I wonder why I keep going. Why is the urge to write, buried for so many years (the ‘One Day’ excuse), so strong?

I don’t know.

It just is.

I know that I have stories to tell and one day they are going to land in the right inbox and my book – books – will be out there.

[bctt tweet=”I know that crafting words into a story brings me joy. ” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]

Joy. You want to know what it feels like when you do get the news that your publishing dream is coming true?

What it looks like?

Watch this – my kindred spirit friend Maureen Eppen was surprised with a proof copy of her first children’s book – her first published book – last week. She dropped by my house, thinking she was collecting another book, and I had my camera ready to capture something beautiful.


[bctt tweet=”This is what joy looks like for a #writer. ” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]

Watching it makes me tear up with pride, happiness and … joy. I know this feeling.

This is what I felt when my picture books were published. What I hope to feel when my novel hits the right inbox.

And maybe 2018 is that year.

I’ve learnt a lot this year.

Mostly that it takes time. That you have to be patient.

But also, that despite the pain of setbacks and rejection, there is also joy.



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

8 Responses

  1. Incredibly well said, Monique. Fingers crossed for 2018, and thank you for posting that beautiful video of Maureen. It’s one of the highlights of the year, that video.
    Christmas hugs to you and Blue Eyes from us.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful reflections on 2017 dear Monique. Wishing you the best of luck for a highly successful 2018! and I just love your video of Maureen, its priceless. x

    1. Thanks, Marlish. The Maureen video is a treasure and I am so grateful she let me share it because it has touched so many peoples’ hearts. I have had a good 2017 despite the setbacks and I think patience, which I have lots of in other aspects of my life, was my lesson as a writer this year.

  3. What a true friend you are, to take so much pleasure in seeing someone else’s happiness. The video is just wonderful.
    I related to your description of ‘the joy and pain of writing’, because it seems writing involves a fair amount of both emotions, and I doubt it ever changes, no matter how experienced the writer. Yet still we write, because we love it!
    Wishing you much writing joy and success in 2018!

    1. Watching Maureen’s joy felt almost as joyful for me. It was such a memorable moment and I have watched it over and over.

      Yes, sometimes we do wonder why we write because the pain can cut so deep … but then you think of the joy and the delight you have in bringing the words inside you alive.

      I hope your 2018 is successful too!

  4. I love your honesty, Monique. I await to see what brilliance you will achieve in the future because it is only a matter of time. x

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