Friday 13 June 2008

Best Rejection Letter EVER!

Bergamont's Journey is one of my problem children. It's novella-length coming of age story woven with the seven sacred teachings. It's set in a fantasy world, with swords, dragons and mystical creatures on magical quests. It has a funny side and a spiritual side, and at 17,500 words, I find it hard hunting markets to pitch it to.

At least it's generally fairly well received - it's not outright rejected, more like gently shoved out the door. Better than the kicks I got at first.

I'd sent it to this publishing house that had just begun piercing the fiction market, and I thought it would be a good fit. I sent the whole thing since it's such a short novel, and they kept it for four months. In my experience with rejections (which is vast and widely celebrated), they come quick and don't mess around.

So I worked myself up. It was kind of fun. After all, their consideration time was stated to be 2 to 4 months, and they'd already had it for four months. I was ecstatic, really. (Yes, I do need a life, thanks for asking!)

Well, Bergamont showed up in my mailbox in it's pre-postaged envelope on a Thursday afternoon. I'm not one of those people who broods and waits to open rejections, though I always think it would be quite dramatic to do so. I ripped the envelope open right there in the small cramped mailroom, read the letter, ran upstairs and bewildered my roommate with claims of having received the best rejection letter ever (she might not have understood at first - I was out of breath and speaking quickly, even for a French-Canadian).

So here it is, what the best rejection letter EVER said:

Dear Marie Bilodeau (come on, the using of the name is good!),

I hope this letter finds you well. Thank you for allowing us to consider Bergamont's Journey. Although we enjoyed reading this lovely adventure, we have ultimately decided that we shall not pursue publication. We regret that this book does not fulfill our current publishing needs, as we are currently publishing very little fiction. Your story was touching, however, and quite well-written, with thrilling action and humourous turns. Several times while reading your manuscript I laughed aloud to the befuddlement of my colleagues.

We appreciate your thinking of us, and I wish you the best of luck finding a fiction house that will be able to take on this project.

It was hard not being on a high after receiving that! With any luck, the next place I send Bergamont to will welcome him into their published family!

... of course, it'll take quite a bit of time to identify another good market for it! Oh well, the hunt and the anticipation are part of the fun!

Why I Love Montreal ... and yes, Hazelnut coffee IS involved!

Sitting in an ex-Second Cup, now a Lavazza (claming to be Italy’s favourite coffee – I choose to love them because they have Hazelnut coffee), I need only glance outside the tall windows to know I’m in Old Montreal. The streets are set with cobblestones, horses and buggies are making the rounds, and the tall stone buildings are silent witnesses to an architectural age long come and gone.

I’m on the second floor of the coffee shop, in a type of balcony. Every other partisan of the coffee shop is downstairs, sitting at large plush red chairs or at chocolate brown tables. I’m alone upstairs save for one other man who is drawing. It’s obvious he’s drawing – you’d have to be pretty daft not to jump to that conclusion from his easel. He’s a nice middle-aged man. We said hello and spoke briefly, being the only two inhabitants of the balcony. We spoke of art, passions, drawing and writing. Well, he spoke of drawing, and I spoke of writing. It was all very fantastic.

And that’s what I love about Montreal. It has that relaxed atmosphere, that understanding that people are only trying to do the best they can, and that we’re all in the same boat on the same churning waters, so it’s good to connect with those around you, as good as it is to withdraw from time to time and create.

I always feel that in Ottawa a lot of artists are hiding, incognito. They create in static areas – their homes, workshops, in classes... Rarely do they sit outside or in public coffee shops to create, to let the life around them influence and colour their art.

I see them once in a while. I see the odd painter, easel set by the blossoming apple trees of the Agricultural museum. Or again by the locks of the canal, carefully trying to capture every detail of the old yet still functional mechanism with carbon pencils.

But in Montreal they’re everywhere, and they’re not shy. Many will even draw your picture if you ask, well, for a “tip,” anyways! The life of the city breaths power into their art, and in turn the artists help not only capture but also to create the landscapes of Montreal.

I love Ottawa, and I do most of my writing in its various coffee shops (ok, mostly Second Cup), but I wish that they would become more a haven for the artist instead of the disgruntled public servants needing their caffeine fix just to get through the day. Well, other coffee shops but Bridgehead. Their coffee isn’t my favourite (and most other shops also have fairly-traded coffees).

But, in the meantime, when I need to just soak those creative vibes, Montreal is just two hours away!