Saturday, 2 October 2010

Bridport 2010 and the Rejection Section

First up I just want to say for all those writers who are finding be by Googling things like 'Have Bridport announced the winners yet?' and such:

Bridport haven't announced anything but they have contacted at least the shortlisted poets, maybe the short story writers too. I only know this because Jonathan Pinnock has blogged about it.

I know how the need to know can get you - you Google Google Google it, refresh your emails, all that jazz - I do it myself, and it's often frustrating when you just want to know - have the winners been notified so I can move on with that particular piece of work. And maybe feel a little sad at not making it.

I'm in a bit of a Rejection Section (nice) at the moment - check out this list from the back of my notebook where I keep track of where my stories are. This is from May til now:

I haven't had a hit since... 100 Stories for Haiti in January. Wowsers. Okay. It's no biggie. It will be a fine day when the trend is broken (see, optimistic).

I've been working on The Book too, in bits and bobs. I'm a bit of a faddy writer. That makes it sound bad and I don't think it is. I just have different moods, different projects, and it's good - for me anyway - to go to each thing when I want to. I have several short stories at various stages of development right now, and The Book is always lurking. It means it can be more difficult to complete something in a short space of time, but that a story has space to grow (stale?) .

Along with this tendency to leap around I also believe that You Have To Show up and put yourself in front of your notebook, desk, PC, whatever, and Meet The Boat. (On reading over this post I realise these capitilzings look like titles of self-help books...)

So here's the thing I really want to tell you about. A few days ago I sat in my favourite coffee shop for writing. I was actually writing about writing. I'd taken a look at my Rejection Section and I sat thinking about how small my output can be at times, beating myself up a little really - giving myself the 'How do you expect to get a book published if you don't write it?' talk. Fair point.

Then I balanced it out by acknowledging that I do Show Up - I go to the coffee shop with my notebook and pen and no newspaper (mostly) and I sit and think about writing and sometimes I actually write things. Not always, but I go and put myself in that position and mindset and I believe it's useful in my busy working (not writing work) week to give myself that time.

I've mentionned before that I have a 'deal' with my friend Miles that we email each other a chapter of our WIPs at the end of each month. Well, with only 2 days to the end of September I had NOTHING to send to Miles. (Miles, who is actually a film maker primarily, is a bloody annoyingly productive writer who emailed me his chapter around the 20th September. )

There are various reasons why this month my book has taken a backseat but the over riding one is because I have been trying to write this book for ages, and after a certain point I hit a wall because the structure becomes a problem.

I really wanted to send Miles something, 'Even if it's only electronic pissvomit'.

So, back at home after the coffee shop I sat at my desk and forced myself to write up a list of reasons why the various structures and incarnations The Book has taken have worked or not worked.

I should mention, I have done this before - loads of times. BUT. SOMETHING HAPPENED.

It's as close to a 'Eureka' moment as I have ever had: I realised how to structure the book. I shouted some words out like, 'Yes! That's it!'. I felt like I had loads of energy in my belly that I couldn't get out.

I drew this

And really, it feels like it was always there - this idea, this way to do it, just below the surface. An enamel surface; a thin ice surface too.

This is a long post. I try not to do long posts. Really, it's just about how this week I have really felt the ups and downs of writing, but I kept doing the the constant stuff, like going to the coffee shop, like putting myself at the desk.


Rachel Fenton said...

"Pissvomit" is not far from my reality of the last week and a half!

Love your reject list - made me feel heaps better - and the jangly bright rug-ma-bob you photographed next to it - a very snuggly homely reject list!

Super brill well done you for getting on and on and on with it - even after bonging into a writerly wall a few times!

Really pleased for you, and your happiness/enthusiasm/eurikativity is off the scale - yay!

essygie said...

sometimes it feels like writing is all perseverance and where the hell is the inspiration? - but well done for sticking with it, I'm glad you were rewarded with that moment of inspiration at last :-)

Andy said...

Tree, just want to say well done, at the very least, on Showing Up. Far, far too often I don't even get that far. Heck, MY blog has languished a little bit lately and don't even ask me about scripts. I have various pland and ideas on how to get myself to Show Up.

Now I just need to do them.

Sophie Playle said...

Thanks for sharing your rejection list! I don't feel so alone and crappy now, knowing that good writers are in the same position as me...!

Ah, those 'eureka' moments are awesome, aren't they?

I think it is very important to give yourself time to think about writing, as well as time to write. I find I can't just write without having thought it through. Instead of going to a coffee house, I usually have my thinking time in the bath...!

Dan Purdue said...

Well done, Teresa - good to hear you've had a bit of a breakthrough with The Book. I didn't realise you'd had such a long dry spell - well done on keeping up with the submissions during the drought. I'm sure it won't be much longer before the editors out there come to their senses and start snapping stuff up.

I've noticed a spike in the number of people rocking up at my blog since I mention the Bridport Prize. I'll have to remember it for next year - a neat way to snag some extra visitors!

TheWriteGirl said...

Gah. Found this post because I`m waiting for the Bridport Prize announcement too; I assumed that everybody had been told by now, but wouldn`t SOMEBODY from the short story section have written about it if they had?? Bloomin` anticipation.

Good luck. Hope you get through.


Teresa Stenson said...

Rachel - thank you, and yes, it's a rug, it looked more interesting on that than the dining room table I photographed it on first. Glad you connected with the 'pissvomit' :)

Essie - yes, it sort of solidifies the idea that you have to keep going and believe the breakthrough WILL happen. Thank you :)

Andy - hiya! I'm at work. Latte Man is not here. But for how long?
Just do it, Andy - get and your desk and write a load of pissvomit and see if it gives way to the good stuff. It will.

Sophie - that's funny - cos every so often when I get a writing idea I immediately want to get in the bath to think it through. It's like an isolation tank...

Dan - I know, well maybe I've been in a dry spot because you keep winning everything? God, Dan, so selfish.

Hello H - nice to have you here :) I think, from reading Tania Hershman's blog, that all the shortlisters have been contacted in all categories. From my experience last year, the organisers asked us not to blog about winning until the results were up on the website, so that's possibly why not many people have announced their luck.

jonathan pinnock said...

Hi Teresa,

Thanks for the link - I seem to be getting a fair bit of traffic from you :) Which made me wonder a little .


Teresa Stenson said...

Hi Jon - you'rw welcome - and huge congratulations to you. I just said over at your blog that I should have commented and told you'd I'd linked to you - sorry about that. When I saw you'd been shortlisted I thought it might be useful to flag it up here for anyone searching for Bridport news and finding my blog, mainly because I know it's really frustrating when you want to know how a story has fared so you can move on and get it sent elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I love your writing, Teresa, and hope the dry patch comes to an end soon. It goes that way sometimes, and it'll be like buses, you'll get a run of good news soon and we'll all get a chance to read more of your stories. As for Bridport, well done to the shortlisted folks - can't wait to see the results.

Teresa Stenson said...

Thank you, Martha, that's lovely to hear. I hope you're having a good time of it, writing, subbing, not building up too big a rejection section. And, yes, well done to all the Bridporters.