It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings at midnight December 31st, however I’m already reviewing my log for 2014. Writing-wise, I’ve had a middling-to-good year. As seems to be the norm, about a third of the ‘ships’ I sent out, returned to port carrying some form of booty, be it publication, acceptance, broadcast, recognition or short-listing. Veterans of this blog will know that when I refer to ‘ships’ I’m talking about all the short-stories, stage/screenplays, radio dramas, training/workshops, residencies etc… which I’ve sent out on spec re publication, staging or broadcast or whatever. Over two thirds of my ‘ships’ sank without trace. For a writer, that’s actually a good hit. That’s how hard this profession can be and how utterly important it is to be able to deal with relentless rejection.
So, these are the stats: .last year I sent out a total of 45 ships. Some 16 returned to port, 26 never made it and three are still out there bobbing on the waves of publisher/broadcaster whim. It was a pretty similar story in 2013 when I sent out 56 ships, 17 returned to port and 39 went nowhere. The highlights of 2014 were my three broadcast radio plays and beginning my PhD on New Writing at The Royal Court Theatre (and the move to London that entailed). I’ve also been selected to go to Italy (Assisi) to an artists’ residency in 2015 and a number of short-stories of mine have recently been selected for publication in anthologies – meaning a total of nine stories of mine have now been published, along with four broadcast radio plays. But, believe me, for every one of those ups, there have been at least two disappointments.
Rejection is part and parcel of the writer’s lot and learning how to handle it is one of the most important (and difficult) challenges writer faces. I’ve seen terrifically talented writers fail because they couldn’t hack the relentless disappointment. Equally, I’ve seen mediocre writers break through due to their tenacity and self-belief.
Don’t give up – look at how you can improve your rejected story/script/novel/play and send it out again. And, much depends on what the magazine or the competition judge is looking for at that particular time, it may not be a comment on your writing skills. It’s all about not giving up, and sending out more and more ships… Now, get back to work.