Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Lament of the Reject

It is 365 blogs since I heard that Naming Names had been shortlisted for the inaugural Mslexia novel writing prize. Had I written a blog a day, which I initially intended, that would have been a year ago. It is, in fact, a little over 14 months. Naming Names was a runner up for the prize, but has still not found a publisher. It may never find a publisher.

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing out in writing, then do not write, our culture has no use for it. – Anais Nin

To write about culture with such energy and beauty is extraordinary, and to write about writing so eloquently is extraordinary, to do both in one sentence rather moves me.

It is my fervent wish that this statement were true. I wonder if it was ever true. I hope that it was, because if it was ever true, it means that it might be true again one day.

My fear is that it is not true now. I do not feel the truth of it now.

I am beginning to tire.

I am beginning to tire of having praise heaped on my work, and then hearing, ‘But...’ 

I am one of the lucky ones. I get to write. I get to earn a living writing, and I am grateful for it. I don’t want to complain. I really don’t.

It doesn’t matter what I write, I bring the same skill set with me when I write a project. I love to play the games that I play with the stories that I write, and I don’t care whether what I do is noticed or not. If my stories are read and enjoyed that’s good enough for me. After all, they don’t belong to me any more after they’re published. I’ve been paid, and once a reader buys my work it belongs to him. 

That isn’t where the battles lie.

The battles lie in my own work. The battles lie in novels like Naming Names and Savant. I breathed, I cried out, I sang, I opened a vein for fuck’s sake and I wrote. I wrote those books because I had something to say. I didn’t just have stories to tell, I had something to say, I had a truth to tell.

Right now, our culture seems to me to have no use for the truth. It does not want to get dirty or bloody. It does not want to get covered in snot or tears. It does not want to feel guilt or shame. It does not want to look itself in the eye.

There is no greater shame than that.

It is now 22nd January 2015 and I have sold Savant to Solaris. I am pleased and proud, and I am thrilled that Jonathan Oliver has shown such faith in this project. Of course I'll let you all know when it's available to read.


  1. Western society is suffering from comfort. Without an environment that needs effort to survive it is all to easy to sit back and accept that we are fine as we are.

    There are still people who for some reason (faith, personal disaster, curiosity, &c.) dare to take a torch into the dark places of the self, but mostly we feed on scraps of catharsis lived vicariously through the tatters of celebrity.

    Or maybe society is happy and I am broken.

    Ironically it appears OpenID is currently broken, so manual submission it is.

  2. I totally agree. Society is complacent, filled with soft love stories and happily ever afters; none of it is ever very real. Now I'm not saying that fantasy and the make believe are in any way bad things, I just think that they can be used to do so much more; to engage with something bigger.

    I guess it's a reason I'm slightly excited for the independence vote in Scotland because regardless of what way it goes, writer's will have something to say about it. I just pray that it's something new.

  3. Sigh.

    Working in TV development, I have a board of great ideas that would make brilliant programmes. Every meeting I walk into, a commissioner dismisses 9 out of 10, and makes the one idea that's gone on the list to make up the numbers.

    Usually they dismiss them with depressing orthodoxies like "foreign films don't rate" (despite the North Korea Panorama last night getting 5 million viewers), or "stories about poor people don't rate" (despite the Dispatches I made about gypsies being at the time the second highest rating dispatches ever).

    But I keep pitching these ideas, keep believing in them, keep trying. If you believe a story is a good story, keep fighting for it. If you opened a vein, keep bleeding.

    Officialdom is depressing; rejection is depressing; but finally getting to tell the story you've wanted to tell is sublime. I'd keep at it.

    1. I see no other choice but to keep at it.

      It'll find it's audience... eventually. At this rate, I just hope I'm alive to see it. Smiles.

  4. saturation. just like the untold kakasquillions (scientific term) of people in the darkness that is the grim future (with mirrorshades on), saturation has turned that quality over quantity paradigm on it's ass. it seems these days it's less about what you have to offer as much it is that you "tick the right boxes". these days riding the cliche is preferable (and easier to market) than a subtle blend of fresh originality without utilising too many common conventions.

    and then you've got the market itself. Dredd3D ain't gonna win a grammy, it ain't going to blow box office records, hell, expecting any R18 to is asking much. I see the snowball effect no more prevalent than where popular media meets culture. these days they're almost the same thing, culture is a product after all. it might have started out catering to desires, these days they create the desires. new revenue streams ahoy, and all that.

    although to be honest, as a whole, I think writers hope to get published, paid, and appreciated ... but write anyway, or one could argue, regardless ;)