I am getting rejected left, right and centre at the moment, I am. But, alas, tis part of the job/lifestyle/package/shebang of being a writer. I only submit to competitions/places I really want to be placed in these days. I tailor my writing energy to projects that mean the most to me, or get me excited. This might sound kind of obvious - but there was definitely a time I'd send work to places I didn't care that much about, just because I wanted a publication credit.
So when my stories don't make it there's always a little sting, and maybe a bigger sting the more I wanted whatever I was going for. Most of the time it's a fairly prestigious prize that will help elevate my career, or sometimes it's a project I think looks interesting and I'd like to be involved in.
The last 3 rejections have all been different but all were coveted intensely (by me) (and others too, yeah, but let's just stick with me for the purpose of this blog post about me).
I'll run you through them, and then I will let them go good and proper, like.
I REALLY wanted to win a week's retreat at Anam Cara. So much so that I relaxed my writing principle of only working on work that excites me - I was not excited about the brief but I was about the prize, so I gave it a go. Got nowhere. That's okay, really, because the stories I produced, although I sweated over them, weren't really my thing. And one day - I will get to Anam Cara.
Then there was the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology which I REALLY wanted to be in because there were so many good writers commissioned to be in it including my most favourite Ali Smith. So I sent 2 pieces of flash fiction that I feel good about and thought stood a fighting chance. Got nowhere. Felt a bit bummed out, natch.
BUT THEN, there was this thing I REALLY REALLY wanted a go at. And it was different to anything I'd tried my hand at. It was an application for a paid writing job - a one-off commission to write a short story for The Stockton Riverside Festival. The story would create and establish a myth about why the festival takes place each year, and as soon as I started digging around on the web and looking at this fantastic festival I got hugely inspired. And that thing happened where stuff started fitting together - where ideas were coming that felt like they were always there, that magic spark you get. Coincidences too - notes I'd been making for other things linked to possibilities for this thing. So, the application required a writing CV and a covering letter - there was no need to write the story yet. I put my CV together and felt proud what I could include on there (Bridport, The Guardian, Willesden Herald) while also being aware that I'm (okay, excuse me that this is a little icky) 'up-and-coming' (it's okay - I didn't describe myself as that) rather than 'got-shit-loads-of-books-published'. I hoped I might get an interview - because that was the next stage - and I could impress them with my enthusiasm. But no. I didn't get shortlisted, and that one stung the most, because even though I hadn't written the piece, I had totally invested myself in the idea of it. I knew it was a long-shot, but it was something I felt ready for. The fee was fantastic: £1500 plus £1000 in the research fund. I had let myself imagine being able to work less at my day job over the summer so I'd have more time to write.
This post isn't about being wallowy, because like I said up at the start rejection is all part of it. And I also said I would let it all go. So go on, rejected feelings - away with you. Feel free to share any recent rejections (writing or otherwise) in the comments section and when you hit 'post' I promise the bummed-out feeling will go.
(By 'promise' I mean I 'hope')