If there is one thing a writer needs to get accustomed to, it’s being rejected.
Luckily for first-time London novelist Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, she already received extensive training on dealing with rejection — albeit from a somewhat unlikely source.
Flynn worked for a time as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris.
As glamorous as the profession might appear to many people, it also proved to be a good classroom for dealing with other people’s negativity.
“When I was younger I was a model and that is a great industry to prepare you for rejection,” Flynn said. “When trying to get an agent, you get a lot of rejection letters. It definitely stung every time I got one. You kind of learn not to take it personally.”
Despite those early rejections, Flynn wasn’t deterred.
In fact, that perseverance paid off as just last week she held the official launch party for her first novel, appropriately titled, Firsts,
Flynn’s journey to published author is by no means an overnight success story.
Having studied English literature before going on to receive a post-grad in journalism from Sheridan College, Flynn always knew she loved creative writing.
In fact, she’d been enjoying it her entire life.
But in a world where the bottom line is often a motivating factor for many people, she didn’t think it was something she could make a living at.
“I had it in my head it wasn’t a practical life path to take. So I thought I would study English lit, I’d go to school for journalism,” Flynn said. “But both those things just made me realize what it was I was supposed to be doing, what I felt I was meant to do. It was just a matter of admitting that to myself.”
Flynn was in her early 20s when she began taking writing seriously.
She wrote a pair of books and along the way set out to get herself an agent, which any author will say isn’t the easiest of things to accomplish.
Which brings her story back to all those rejection letters.
Starting in 2012, it took her almost two years to get an agent. Along the way, she began writing Firsts in late 2013.
In October 2014, she finally received a book deal.
“That was pretty much the best phone call ever. I was really excited,” Flynn said. “I was at work (in the digital communications department at TD Canada Trust) when I got the call so I had to contain my excitement a little. I did do a little bit of a happy dance in the hallway.”
That excitement might have been pushed just a bit higher as she recognized how “polarizing” the subject matter would be.
Firsts tells the story of 17-year-old Mercedes Ayres, who has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin.
Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time — the kind Mercedes never had herself.
So why write a book that challenges the notions of virginity and societal standards?
“There’s a double standard that exists. It seems a lot of males, if they did this sort of behaviour, it wouldn’t be as big a deal,” Flynn said. “I set out to tell the story of Mercedes; I wasn’t trying to have a moral to the story or a lesson to be learned. But I definitely wanted to tell the story of this girl who deserved better and have it a story that other teen girls would read, maybe see themselves in.”
Beyond any social statements the book might make, Flynn quickly admits, “it’s pretty awesome” to see her thoughts in print.
After all, until Firsts hit the bookshelves, her stories had only existed as word documents on a computer.
Having them in print, touring in support of the book, signing copies for supportive friends, family and friends alike, has certainly been a “surreal” experience.
“To not only see it in print, but especially on bookshelves next to authors I admire, out there in the world for people to buy. It’s a little weird,” Flynn said. “I’ve written a couple books since then; I’m working on a third one. My editor is at one right now; so we shall see what’s next.”