I had an interesting experience this week, which goes to underline one of the main points I make when I'm teaching writing.
I needed to talk to a couple of agents about a new project I'm working on. I'd met some at the excellent Winchester Writers' Festival last year, so I sent them a quick email...
... and received a helpful reply that very morning.
What a difference I suspect that is from people who might approach an agent out of the blue with a submission. And it just reinforced my thoughts about The Castle.
A quick visual interlude here. Ok, it's not a castle, but it's still magnificent and it's a continual source of comfort, support and inspiration to me - the cathedral at the heart of my beloved Exeter.
So, back to the castle, which is how I imagine the effort to get yourself published.
If you haven't managed it, the writing industry looks like a mighty fortress, with thick, indomitable walls. But when you get inside, you can mix happily and easily with everyone in there, and it makes getting published again and again a whole lot easier.
It's just the small matter of getting inside that's the problem...
I know it's easy for me to say, but I hope this helps - the people inside are actually pretty much normal (your narrator excluded) and open to others joining us - because without new writing talent, the industry would quickly die.
So on the days the walls look impossible, remember that and keep on trying - being inside the castle is a great privilege, and it's worth the effort, I promise you.
And as to the secret to getting inside, it's a simple one - never, ever come to believe the walls cannot be breached. Just keep right on knocking...