I like the discipline of entering a short story competition – deadlines to keep, word counts to adhere to, themes to inspire (or frustrate).
They’re good for the writing muscles, even though success is often elusive.
When you receive yet another rejection (or when you hear nothing but yourself hitting refresh on your emails, searching for a message that never comes), you remind yourself that these things are subjective.
That your stunningly provocative tale about a ginger Tom sporting a bowler and plus fours might have hit the judge’s desk on the very day he / she discovered they have a potentially fatal cat allergy and their Nana’s just been knocked down by a runaway lorry, buried alive under its load of hard, domed hats and knee length trousers.
And yes, you tell yourself that rejections are badges of honour to wear with pride – even if you do wonder how many such ‘badges’ you have to wear before someone gives you the one that reads ‘winner’.
And this is all very well and good and yes you know ‘J.K Rowling was rejected fifty squillion times before she was published’ but in the end she was quite nicely compensated for all that and by the way, when’s she going to move over and let someone else have a go?
However, amid the slew of rejections, the deafening silence that means ‘thanks but no thanks’, there is light shimmering in the grey.
A couple of weeks ago, I entered a competition run by author and tutor for The Writers Bureau, Esther Newton. The competition was on the theme of The Discovery and last week I discovered I’d been shortlisted. Lovely to be shortlisted and by someone so experienced and knowledgeable – delightful.
Yesterday, Esther announced the winning stories and … my story
was there in first place!
Budge up, J.K – we’re on our way.