Bunnies and Rejection

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.


9 Comments on “Bunnies and Rejection

  1.  by  katejones73

    Thank you! This post gives hope to everyone who’s ever submitted anything anywhere! I’ve read so many books that others’ have revered and thought – what’s all the fuss? Everyone has their own opinion, after all. (I don’t even like the new John Lewis advert – shhh! Don’t tell anybody). K

    •  by  Sherri

      Good words as always, Nik. I am most definitely a member of that club – as all writers probably are. And I have a plethora of examples of rejected/not listed stories going on to do well elsewhere, sometimes without a word changed. Rejection hurts, there’s no question of it, but it has to be accepted of part of the job and, as you say, not taken personally as far as possible. (Though don’t beat yourself up if you can’t help it a little bit – we all do!)

      (And Kate – I don’t like the JL ad either!!)

        •  by  Linda Daunter

          I hate that ad too, but perhaps for a different reason. Why don’t they go and rescue the poor, old chap instead of just sending him a telescope so he can see what he’s missing?!!

      •  by  nikperring

        Thanks, Sherri. God, we ALL are. Don’t know any writer who isn’t. And yep – thats what I mean – those stories didn’t get anywhere not because they weren’t any good – just someone preferred something else (people have a right to be wrong – ha!). And of course rejection hurts – but it hurts because we care deeply and we should be proud of that and not apologise for it. Caring’s what makes good writers, I’m sure of it.

        And yeah – of course we’re allowed to be affected by it. It’s shitty! Just don’t forget to put it into context. And, really, it’s not so bad. I think the rejections that really hurt are the ones from people where it’s us on the line, not, so much, our stories…

        Keep at it!

    •  by  nikperring

      Well, I’ve yet to see the John Lewis ad but I think it’s probably a good bet that I won’t like it. They don’t really do good adverts anymore, do they? But yeah, art’s all about people’s opinions and everyone has a right to not like something and not feel bad for not liking something. It used to really get me down how you could feel rubbish and less intelligent because you didn’t like something that was considered great or ‘important’ by those in the club; I felt a lot that they put that across to keep others out of it.

      But anyway… Yes – I hope it’s given people hope and insight. The trick with writing (as well as making brilliant stories out of great ideas) is just keeping on and not giving up. It’s far more simple than people’d have you believe, this writing game. You just need to write good things, because people like those.

  2. Pingback: Poised Pen Long List – and December 4th |

  3.  by  Linda Daunter

    Of course I was hoping for a better result, but rejections don’t bother me now – I’ve had too many of them! I enjoyed the challenge of finding a story to go with the photo prompt but I had to cut the first draft so much to fit it into the word count that I wasn’t sure if it still made sense. Never mind, I’ll probably work on the longer version and try it elsewhere.
    Congrats to everyone who did make the longlist. I’ll look forward to seeing who wins.

    •  by  nikperring

      Hard luck, Linda.

      And yes, it’s always a tricky thing to enter things with word limits. I usually advise against it, to be honest, because you end up, if you’re not careful, with something that isn’t quite the story it should naturally be. But yes – definitely enter it somewhere else! And well done for entering in the first place, and for giving it a good shot on the editing front.

      And, if you fancied an even smaller word count challenge, there’s still this…


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