Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Winning and Losing by Helen Chambers


“You keep on winning,” said one friend. “You’re on a roll,” said another. True, I’ve had a run of good luck with my writing. Since 1st January 2018, I’ve won the Fish Short Story Prize, a free place on a ‘Fantastic Flashing’ course with Retreat West and had a flash story up online with Who Writes Short Shorts? and a couple of longlists and one shortlist.

But. But…

I’ve just counted my rejections. A rejection is where you get a polite email if you’re lucky (many thanks Spelk, who’ve politely let me know three times now), and if you’re unlucky, you just notice the absence of your story title from the published longlist (no names – but I’m talking about a prestigious flash competition!). It can be demoralising when you’re sure your piece really isn’t bad.

I’m hit and miss with sending things in. I have long periods when I submit nothing, then in a flurry I may have a week where I submit four or five pieces. I’ve been writing a lot of flash fiction recently, where it’s short, giving me a higher output than say, short stories. I’m also (obviously) trying to write new things too and can’t always spare the time, or money, involved to submit.

Looking at things from the academic year, as a good teacher should, I’ve had 34 rejections since September 2017. At least I tried! I read an article by Kim Liao on LitHub that you should be aiming for 100 rejections per year, because that way, at least you’re writing new things and sending stuff out… On that basis, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on my rejections!