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.