Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Win or Lose

I know, I know, my blog posts are like buses: none for ages and then two come along at once. But this one will be brief, I promise.

First, I just want to boast. I won a competition! My story, 'Unquiet', written a couple of years ago, won the March competition at A Very Short Story. It is my first ever competition win, so I'm rather proud. However, my larger reaction to it has been interesting, to me at least.

I've been sending out to the occasional competitions and magazines over the years, but have only really got serious about my submissions in the last year. I'm getting quite used to rejections from magazines, and getting nothing at all - or the occasional short-listing or honourable mention - from competitions. When I was just sending out the odd one or two here and there, these rejections would be tragic events that would set me back, and stop me from submitting for a while. A fairly normal reaction for many writers, I've come to realise.

However, with my increased level of submissions, the rejections have become easier to take, at least in part because of the occasional acceptance (or short-listing, etc.), and in part because if you send more pieces out you have to accept there will be more rejections.

My reaction to these snubs has not been to curl into a ball and wait for the pain to pass, but instead to redouble my efforts and send out even more stories - courting more hurt, but also the possibility of more acceptances.

And then, yesterday, I heard that I had finally won a competition. Not just that, but a competition with a prize! Of money! I'm not sure I ever considered what my reaction would be. Perhaps I thought it would finally be confirmation of something or other, and I could relax and enjoy it.

Nope. My reaction has been the same as it would have been to a rejection. 'They like it? They want it? They think it's worth awarding money? Fine. Time to send out some more then!'

So, my point (and yes, there is one other than basking in the glow of success) is this:

If you get rejected - submit again, submit more, and submit more often.
If you get accepted - submit again, submit more, and submit more often.

The key to success as a writer is persistence. All you can do is keep sending work out, as often as possible, and wait for it to find its home.

Here endeth the lesson...

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