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A Very Nice Rejection Letter: Diary of a Novelist

Chris Paling

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Autobiography: literary

The confessions of a midlist writer - what nobody sets out to be, but the destination of most.

Nobody sets out to become a midlist writer, but it's the destination of most.

Confessions is the journal of a novelist who's published nine novels, a book of nonfiction, a play, and, recently, become a painter. It's a wry account of what it's like trying to make a living on and around Grub Street: the frustrations with publishers, agents, the film and TV industries; the pain when a contemporary with whom he's sharing a platform with at a literary festival is catapulted to the stratosphere by becoming a 'Richard and Judy Best Read'; the joyous lunches with his agents in some of the poshest restaurants in London; the glimmer of hope when he's shortlisted for Mind Book of the Year, and the Fiction Uncovered promotion.

The inevitable disappointment when it doesn't trigger sales, and the awful realisation that, in 2007, by dint of his returns, he's sold forty-five fewer novels than an unpublished novelist. But, as he says, hope drives all writers on, which is why he remains relatively optimistic when he turns up at yet another Soho office of yet another British Film company who've called him in to discuss a script. It won't quite be what they're looking for of course, but he will be encouraged to keep in touch, and 'keep them in the loop' of what he's up to. So he goes on writing and hoping that maybe, just maybe, something he writes will trigger that mythical word of mouth and he'll be invited to the literary top table. Chances, however, as well he knows, are slim. But he's okay about that.

Truth is stranger than fiction. But he should have known that, he is a writer after all.

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