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Write-Off with Francesca Steele

Rejection and how authors get past it

Award-winning journalist and writer Francesca Steele talks to authors about their experiences of rejection, from self-doubt to books not selling, and how they get past it.
Latest Episode7/7/2021

Meg Mason

Season 1, Ep. 11
What do you do when you've written an entire book you hate? Martha, the narrator or Sorrow and Bliss, is intelligent, critical, loving, cruel: an incredibly nuanced unforgettable character. She suffers from an undiagnosed mental health condition and when we meet her she has just split up with her husband Patrick. It's a very wise, sad funny book, with a unique, dry tone. I absolutely loved it.I love it perhaps even more now that i know it was born of failure. Meg Mason is a journalist, originally from New Zealand now living with her family in Australia, who had previously publishedtwo books: a memoir about young motherhood called Say It Again InNice Voice and a novel, also about young motherhood, called You Be Mother. Under contract to write a third book, Meg laboured over a project she loathed for a year beforehanding it in and feeling so wretched that she declared that she was done with fiction altogether. Until suddenly she found herself sneaking back out to her writing she’d and writing secretly just for her ownpleasure about two characters called Martha and Patrick and how their marriage had failed. Meg is very gentle, self-deprecating, insightful and very surprised and curious herself about this extraordinary U-turn. We talked about how Martha and Patrick actually existed in her failed novel in a different form, banningthesaurus.comand how to tell the difference between a difficult project that's worth pushing on with, and one that isn’t.You can buy Sorrow and Bliss and books by all my guests here, along with the excellent George Saunders book and the Ann Patchett essay collection Meg mentions in this episode: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/francescasteele
7/7/2021

Meg Mason

Season 1, Ep. 11
What do you do when you've written an entire book you hate? Martha, the narrator or Sorrow and Bliss, is intelligent, critical, loving, cruel: an incredibly nuanced unforgettable character. She suffers from an undiagnosed mental health condition and when we meet her she has just split up with her husband Patrick. It's a very wise, sad funny book, with a unique, dry tone. I absolutely loved it.I love it perhaps even more now that i know it was born of failure. Meg Mason is a journalist, originally from New Zealand now living with her family in Australia, who had previously publishedtwo books: a memoir about young motherhood called Say It Again InNice Voice and a novel, also about young motherhood, called You Be Mother. Under contract to write a third book, Meg laboured over a project she loathed for a year beforehanding it in and feeling so wretched that she declared that she was done with fiction altogether. Until suddenly she found herself sneaking back out to her writing she’d and writing secretly just for her ownpleasure about two characters called Martha and Patrick and how their marriage had failed. Meg is very gentle, self-deprecating, insightful and very surprised and curious herself about this extraordinary U-turn. We talked about how Martha and Patrick actually existed in her failed novel in a different form, banningthesaurus.comand how to tell the difference between a difficult project that's worth pushing on with, and one that isn’t.You can buy Sorrow and Bliss and books by all my guests here, along with the excellent George Saunders book and the Ann Patchett essay collection Meg mentions in this episode: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/francescasteele
6/2/2021

Julian Fellowes

Season 1, Ep. 6
Julian Fellowes is, of course, rather well known for creating a little TV series you might have heard of called Downton Abbey. And that wasn’t his first screen success either, having already won an Oscar for his screenplay for Gosford Park in 2002. Julian has hadan eclectic career, appearing on the long-running series Monarch of the Glen and a Bond movie. His accent, his family background, the subjects of class that fascinate him - all of these have sometimes led to people accusing him of being a snob and perhaps assuming that everything has come easy to him. And yet. In the late 90s, despairing of an acting career that wasn’t going so well at that point, Julian wrote a novel called Snobs, a book that looks at the flailing British aristocracy of the late 20th century through the eyes of a sort of outsider. He sent it out - and no one wanted it. In fact, some people said some pretty mean things, Several years later, after the success of Gosford Park, a publisher took it on and it became a bestseller, as did Julian’s two later novels. Just as I was talking about last week with the writer and editor, Phoebe Morgan, sometimes it really is a matter of getting a book on the right desk at the right time. Believe it or not Julian Fellowes found rejection as hard as the next person, although he is, I think, an optimist at heart. We talk about that, Downton Abbey, his upcoming show The Gilded Age, about how people have alwaystold him every project of his was unlikely to work out and aboutthe difference between putting something in thebin and putting it in a drawer. Here’s Julian.You can find Julian's books, and those by all my guests, at my online bookshop here: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/francescasteele