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May 2021

Very little painting recently due to a house move but I've been working editing the new book which is out in three weeks' time. "A Very nice rejection letter: Diary of a Novelist." Constable and Robinson are doing this one. They did the last one - 'Reading Allowed' - and it seemed to go down well. Enjoy it - and feel free to respond on the contact page. Always good to get feedback positive or negative.


It's in three parts. The first is a journal I kept during the publication of my last two novels and chronicles the numerous fruitless meetings I had with film and TV people and a lengthy relationship with a film director which nearly led to a film being made - but not quite,


The second part borrows a quote from my favourite film - 'Withnail and I' - "We are indeed entering the arena of the unwell." I kept a diary when I was in hospital for a protracted stay in "Digestive diseases". A fairly routine operation (I was told) went wrong post-op and I spent nearly three months there. Not much fun but a fascinating place to be. The final part is the story of the last couple of years: the painting life, the attempts to sell another novel and the publication of 'Reading Allowed' and this book. So, strangely, the book at the end is about the publication of the book.


This is called 'meta' apparently. I enclose a dozen or so rejection letters at the end.


Here's the plug from the publishers:


“6th April 2007: Writing income for the year so far: minus £300… I feel that this might just be the year in which something happens. Then again it might not. But hope drives all writers on.”


By turns moving, wry and brutally honest, A Very Nice Rejection Letter is a diary from ‘mid-list’ novelist Chris Paling, following his writing processes and progress, and his life post-BBC. It is an examination into the role of creativity in our lives, the need of the writer to write, the storyteller to story tell, the artist to paint, and a glimpse into the somewhat opaque world of publishing.

In renumeration terms, writing is a career that often ends in disappointment and despair, and occasionally disgrace. Paling artfully explores what compels him and so many others to write - the battling joys and agonies of when that compulsion beds itself in one's psyche, and a day without writing is a day wasted. A fascinating insight into the writing process, he tracks the need to write something new, or something old in a new way, something relevant, something that needs to be written when very little actually does, in search of that ever-elusive goal of being 'in print'.


Interweaved are Chris’s frank and at times brutal hospital diaries, as he suffers from life-threatening and painful conditions, juxtaposing life and creativity with death and illness and chronicling the strange liminal existence of ward life, with wryness and humility. A Very Nice Rejection Letter unveils the rewarding yet soul-baring life of a novelist. At its heart is a love letter to the art of writing and creativity, but this delightful book is also a profound reflection on the creative forces that drive us all.


Publishing rule 6: there is no such thing as a 'low-list' novelist.

Chris Paling is the UK and Commonwealth's 1001st Most Important Novelist (Living). For the past 35 years he has been trying (and failing) to make a living as a novelist, screenwriter, playwright and, most recently, a painter. He has authored nine novels, one work of nonfiction, one stage play and numerous short stories alongside a parallel life working full-time as a radio producer at the BBC.


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