Claire King


What are you if you don’t win?

Posted on: December 12th, 2010 by Claire - 13 Comments

<<<<< Not This.

I like putting my writing ‘out there’ to see what happens, so when a competition organiser recently said that they discouraged those who had not done well in the competition from saying so publicly because it would be “detrimental to their credibility as writers.” It got me thinking about our responses to a lack of success.  And I do mean that, and not ‘failure’ because – for me – failure would be if you never entered the competition in the first place. Or if you didn’t bother to write the piece at all.

This is what I think:

If you enter a competition and don’t win, it means that someone else did. Maybe their writing was better than yours, or perhaps just more to the taste of the judges, who knows?

If you get a rejection from an agent (or indeed several) it does not mean your novel is shit. Your novel might be shit or it might be fabulous. It could just be part of the numbers game. We can all hold our hands up and proudly say ‘I have been rejected.’ Can’t we?

If your manuscript is turned down by a publisher (or indeed several) it does not mean you are unpublishable. Again, it could just be part of the numbers game, or a quirk of timing, a matter of taste or being pipped to the post for that particular list.

I’m not suggesting we should arrogantly assume we are literary geniuses (ii?) and that all of these judges and agents and publishing houses are crazy-mad to have not seen our pure talent. Just that, statistically speaking, you can’t win ’em all. Dust it off, brush up if necessary, send it out again.

This applies also to:

Sports; Job Promotions; Love; Twitter Followers.

But not to:

Lottery Tickets; Bingo; Slot Machines.

So, if you have recently entered a competition, and not won, you can tell us here. We’ll still think you’re incredible.

13 Responses

  1. Marisa Birns says:

    You are so correct in everything you’ve said here. Being rejected doesn’t necessarily mean work sent is awful – just not for them.

    I mean, JK Rowling had a dozen publishers saying “no thanks.” And look what happened to publisher number 13, which turn out to be quite a lucky number for her! 🙂

    It’s good to have a place where one can go and say, “I didn’t win,” and not worry about losing credibility.

    Thank you, Claire.

  2. Janetyjanet says:

    may I respectfully also suggest not just promotions, but all things job related – including redundancies, applications and interviews!

  3. Martha says:

    To be a loser you have to believe in losers, then come third in a competition between two.

    Otherwise, you’re just a storyteller.

  4. Walls says:

    I am aware that I’m entering less and less, that I’m losing courage. I need to write more and get out there!

  5. Martha says:

    Oooh, ooh – have you WRITTEN about losers? Becaaauuuuse – there’s a Fictionaut group set up for just that: – I’m going to pop one in before too long – I haven’t sub’d one so far as am finishing book edits and I have a feeling ‘Noir’ could prove addictive…

  6. Rebecca says:

    Someone very wise once said to me that every story will find a home somewhere. Since that little nugget sunk in, I’ve been submitting a lot more and having a lot more success with writing competitions etc. But also not *every* submission is successful. It actually wouldn’t be possible really, when you think of it. It’s all about being determined and pushing on and on, and eventually each story will find it’s own home. That’s what I keep telling myself.

    • claire says:

      I think you’re absolutely right. Sometimes, after a few months cooling off I look back at things I submitted and I can’t see what I ever saw in it. But other times I still see the gem and start repolishing it. You’re a shining example of persistance and reward, Rebecca.

  7. […] Related links – Rachael Dunlop writes: Losing is Not the Same as Failing, and Claire King asks, What are you if you don’t win? […]

  8. […] Related links – Rachael Dunlop writes: Losing is Not the Same as Failing, and Claire King asks, What are you if you don’t win? […]

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