Big Trouble in Not-So-Little China…

November 9, 2009 at 8:29 am (Uncategorized)

And just like that, we’re home. It feels very normal being here, writing a post and letting you guys know I’m back, but I must say the holiday ended far too soon for my liking… Shanghai was very much the home-away-from-home I expected it would be, but the extent of that immediate knowingness exceeded even my pretty high expectations. I loved it, absolutely loved it. We both did. I loved the firewall a whole lot less – I couldn’t access any blogs – imagine how behind I am! – let alone update you here on my own, and the commitments I had on the Varuna blog became a logistical nightmare for poor Simonne, who had to email me comments that came through in response to my final post, and then had to upload each of my responses. Not recommended, but we muddled through. And the final post itself proved contentious – more than I anticipated it would. It turns out I miscalculated a number of things, and I guess I am still working through some of the fallout, which, though not nuclear, certainly changed the landscape somewhat. That all happened while I was away, and the timing was unfortunate to say the least. Next time Llew and I take a holiday, I’m going to try to ensure neither of us has work commitments of any description by the time we take off.

There are so many things, so many impressions and darts of memory, that I want to share with you about Shanghai. Unfortunately it’s occurred to me that I have to be careful. In a practical sense, I really can’t reveal very much here because I’d be doing myself out of paid travel writing work. I know that really, truly  sucks – and I’m very sorry because there’s nothing I’d like better than to give you a full blow-by-blow – but I can’t use previously published material in a travel piece, and even just writing about it here qualifies. So… with that in mind, I will just say it was so incredibly cool,unbelievably friendly, utterly delicious. We met wonderful people. It’s somewhere I could and would live in a shot. Shanghai extended the warmest welcome, and we ran straight into its embrace at full speed.

I don’t know where to start trying to bring you up to date with everything. Two pieces of bad news on the writing front: MS # 1 was rejected by the same agent who rejected it early this year. Some of you may recall she indicated she’d look at it again if I made significant changes; I made significant changes, and she looked at it again, but it turns out she doesn’t much like my story, or my characters, or my writing. I’m still glad I showed it to her again rather than sending it to a new agent – I’ve lost nothing, since she’d already passed. It’s still with another agency, and they too passed on it previously, albeit back when it was a first draft and was woefully unfit to be taken seriously. Again my thinking is that if they pass, well, nothing new lost. But it’s an important indicator to me that perhaps I need to go back to the drawing board before I try anyone else, anyone new, anyone who hasn’t seen it before. I get the feeling this other agency is going to pass, I just feel I’m on another round of rejection, and if they do, then I won’t immediately send it anywhere else. I think I’ll sit on it, and let it rest, and then go back to the drawing board. Meanwhile the beginnings of #2 didn’t make the cut in the inaugural Varuna Publisher Fellowships. I thought there was a chance #2 might outperform #1, but at this stage, both of them are headed precisely nowhere. Unlike me – I’ve just been to Shanghai and back!



  1. Grad said,

    Welcome home.! Whoopee! Can you at least tell us where to find the travel piece that you will write? or are writing? Sorry about the manuscript. How many times was J.K. Rowling turned down? I can’t recall, but Scolastic was, like, way down on the list. You obviously write so well that I’m quite confident I will be able to go into Barnes & Noble and say, “Do you have that thrilling new novel by Diane Jenkins?” And the clerk will point across the store and say, “You’ll find that in the Bestseller’s Section, Ma’am.” (He will definitely say, “ma’am” because this is the South, after all). And I’ll go home and pour myself a glass of wine, and settle into my fave reading spot, and flip open the cover, and read outloud, “Chapter I…”

    • doctordi said,

      My dearest, sweetest Graddikins, you always know just the thing to say! I wish it were true. But just having you believe it is enough for me, it really is. Thank you. How I’ve missed you all!

      p.s. I must tell you I am the D-i-a-n-a variety of Di, not the D-i-a-n-e. Happens all the time – I mostly go by Di and hardly anyone ever uses my full name. xx

  2. Pete said,

    Welcome back and I’m so glad you had a fabulous time. Missed you. Too bad about the MS#1 and 2 (what is wrong with these people?) and also that we won’t be savouring the delights of your travel-writing just yet. I’m sure you’ll nudge us in the right direction when it’s published though, right? (And can you at least show us a pic?) And As for the Varuna post, will be over there now to read it.

    • doctordi said,

      I missed you guys too, Pete. It was unbelievably vexing not being able to read all your blogs, it was driving me spare. Although the forced break from technology was ultimately no bad thing, and we walked all over Shanghai instead, which was a brilliant way of seeing it up close and personal. Loved it.

      Yeah, I’m just trying to figure out a way to tell you more about the trip without compromising work potential… and I think once anything is published I can put it up here. It’s my copyright, after all. But that may take a while. Anyway, I am trying to work it out in my mind, because obviously there are many things that won’t make it into an article or even several. Yeah, kind of sucks about the mss. I won’t lie.

  3. davidrochester said,

    Yes, please do tell us where to find your travel piece(s) when available. We missed ya, Di!

  4. doctordi said,

    Missed you too, Mr Rochester! It’s kind of cool catching up on everyone’s news, but that radio silence was unbelievably shocking. I couldn’t compute it at first, and just kept trying to find a way to break through the firewall. A lost cause if ever there was one.

    Absolutely I’ll keep you ‘posted’ re. travel stories. And I’m mentally filtering info now so I can share some of it with you here. So much to tell!

  5. litlove said,

    Catching up here and can only say hang on in there with the manuscript. The only way to survive this business is to find a sick way to LIKE rejection. The last academic book I published I had to take around ten publishers, and in academia everyone knows we all have to publish, you know, it’s not even like they have to like what we do. Believe in yourself, as we all believe in you.

    But hey, so glad that you had a fabulous holiday! That’s marvellous! And I must get me over to the Varuna blog to see the controversy.I can’t imagine what you can have said that was so bad. I presume someone else overreacted (which is very likely!).

    • doctordi said,

      LL, rejection definitely gets easier. There haven’t even been any tears this time. Disappointment, yes, wholesale meltdown? Absolutely not. But I’ve just been calculating how long the other agency has had the full MS, and it does NOT bode well. That makes me feel a little glum, true. Thank you for believing in me, all of you. I read this comments and I think to myself, ‘Maybe I should just put the MS here, and forget about conventional publication.’ Maybe that’s the topic of my post today.

      I was so honoured by my month as guest blogger at the Varuna site, but I am well pleased and relieved it’s over.

  6. Lilian Nattel said,

    I’m so glad Shanghai was wonderful and I can’t wait to read your travel pieces when published! About the ms and agents–I’m so sorry. I know how disappointing that is. But hang in there. I believe that if you’re willing to put in the time, you’ll get where you want to go.

  7. doctordi said,

    Thanks, Lilian. I repeated that Junot Diaz story on your blog to Llew the other day – I’m kind of chanting ‘Ten years, ten years, ten years’ to myself at regular intervals now.

  8. Simonne said,

    Glad you had such a fantastic time! Jealous! And your last Varuna post was great and just what the blog needed I reckon!
    Good luck with the second agent! All my fingers and toes are crossed x

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