The Importance of Being Kind

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A strange coincidence occurred this week. Three things happened, all around the same time and all with the same theme.

First, I submitted my manuscript to a literary agent for the first time. I say ‘first time’ because, I understand from other authors, rejection is par for the course on this career path. I recently read a social media post from someone who has had her book rejected by 130 agents. I didn’t even know there were that many. 

I’m sure the agent I have selected has read many great books, and can tell me exactly what could be better about mine, which is a little scary. So for the last few days, I’ve been hoping, rather a lot, that she will be kind.

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The second thing to happen was an email arriving in my inbox from, asking me to review the book I have just finished reading, ‘A Deadly Brew’ by Susanna Gregory. I was interested to see what other readers thought of it, so I read a few of the reviews already on the website – and then wished I hadn’t.

There were some scathing comments about the complexity of the plot and the high number of victims in the story, but since Susanna has had a further 20 books published in the same series after this volume, there must be many readers who enjoyed those characteristics, and plenty of other aspects.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t give honest feedback – far from it, but we can express our personal preferences without framing a thing we dislike as somehow ‘wrong’, and it’s OK to lead with what we did like, too. It is possible to be both honest and kind, simultaneously.

It was when the third thing happened that I started thinking the universe was trying to tell me something. A writer I follow on Twitter posted a quote from TV host Conan O’Brien:

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen”.

There’s kindness making an appearance again. 

Well, I’m always up for amazing things so I’m willing to give it a try. And if you could send me some positive thoughts that might help me stop worrying about the 130 rejections scenario, or what the next review of my book might say, that would be – sorry, had to do it – really kind!

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