It took me six months to realise that I took rejection of my creative work hard. I always though I took rejection well. The initial shock of being told you simply are not good enough always stings but I thought I would move on. I thought I didn’t give up, but I did.
In February I had an interview to do a masters in Creative Writing: Prose at University of East Anglia. I couldn’t believe I got an interview; the course is the most competitive in the country, and they have students from all around the world who are keen to get a place.
To be honest, I think it was doomed the moment I heard a student quote Nietzsche to his friend casually.
The entire interview process was them convincing me to not be a fantasy writer. They praised my submission that was entirely biographical, and as a consequence realist. It held some of the same themes as my fantasy works, the main one being questions of one’s cultural identity. One of them told me ‘a story doesn’t have to be fantasy to be interesting’. Well. It’s like they missed the point entirely. Fantasy is about exploring your creativity, and creating an entirely different world that has similar issues as our present world. We don’t write fantasy to be interesting, we write it because for us it is interesting to write. I mean, a story doesn’t have to be literary to be interesting either. The point was redundant.
I knew halfway through the interview that the course wasn’t for me. Not that it mattered – they already told me pretty early on that they only really admitted mature international students.
Anyway, I noticed the last time I continued the sequel (Zara Freej and the Soul Thief) was in February. They had this secret effect on me; I thought it was my choice to stop writing it but I was heavily influence by their criticism of my fantasy writing.
My point is not to give up. Cliche, I know. But seriously, whether you’re a fantasy, historical, crime, romance, children’s writer, your writing and ideas matter.