First up – I’m over at Books With Bunny today, talking about all sorts of things – from giving my heart away to how Beautiful Trees came about, and why every word matters. Click here to read in full.
And a huge part of yesterday was spent with the very short stories I’m judging for the Poised Pen Competition. Judging is hard work. It’s terrific fun because I get to read lots of brilliant things and that’s something I’ll never get tired off and I was really happy when I sent over the long list just after midnight.
But there’s another side to it that I’d like to talk about, a side that isn’t all that pleasant.
Here’s the thing – there can only be one winner. There can only be a certain number of stories that make a long or short list. And that means that there will always be stories that don’t. I’ve not counted properly but I read well over a hundred stories yesterday and 21 made the long list. You can do the maths.
What everyone who ever enters any competition, or submits their work anywhere, and hasn’t got anywhere needs to know is that it’s probably not because your story’s rubbish (it might be, of course, but that’s usually not the case). There were loads, and I mean loads that I read yesterday that were very, very good. But what happens is that I have an important decision to make and while there are loads of factors that will affect that (story, structure, execution, writing, idea, grammar and punctuation, where it’s been polished enough et al) what it can come down to a lot of the time is simply what I prefer.
We’ve all been in the situation where a friend’s told us we must watch or read or listen to something because it’s incredible to find that, when we do, it’s just not our cup of tea. Or that, yeah, it’s all right but we simply prefer something else. It’s the same. So please don’t be disheartened too much and remember that being rejected is never personal. What it is though is a big part of being a writer and while I’d never suggest celebrating it I would say that, if you’ve been rejected, there are things you can do about it – go back to your story, see if it can be improved – or simply send it somewhere else. And you’re definitely in the club. And that club has a lot of very, very good members. Welcome! I’ve been in it for years.
So there we go. More on the comp ver soon once the long list goes live.