Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eighth Place ... That's Not A Mistake

I had a pleasant surprise towards the end of last week. I discovered that one of my short stories had been placed in the final 8 of a competition. Now, I know many people would be disappointed with this. Surely a first, second or third would be better? Well yes, there's no denying one of those would have been more palatable especially as those positions come with cheques attached to them, but let's look at it another way. There were a total of 196 entries received by the competition, so my story was judged to be better than 188 of them. That puts it into perspective.

I've kept the note confirming this. I keep all my 'good news' correspondence, no matter how tentative the good news is. We all need a boost from time to time and when I need mine, I go to my achievement files. This is where I store all my published articles, stories, letters and competition wins and notifications. I like these files because they are what I call 'third party' reminders. These are judgments made by other people about my writing. If an article or short story is published, then the editor enjoyed it and agreed to pay me for it. That wasn't a friend or a relative telling me 'it was good' because that's what they thought I wanted to hear. This was someone in the business.

Every writer should keep an achievement file(s). It's the ideal antidote for when the postman brings those bulging stamped addressed envelopes back. Those editors may not have liked your work, so get your achievement file out and remind yourself that others thought you were worth publishing. If it makes you feel better, just tell yourself that the editor who has just rejected you has made a mistake. It's a mistake that they will have to live with. (Just ask the editors who rejected JK Rowling's Harry Potter, about making a mistake!)

Talking of mistakes, fellow WB tutor Alex Gazzola has just launched a blog called, Mistakes Writers Make. You can find it at and I would encourage you to take a look. Alex has also included some additional pages on his site offering details of a few international markets. He's been acting as a co-ordinator between tutors collating details of foreign markets that we've come across.

Alex makes some valid points in his postings so far, so not taking a peek, would certainly be a mistake!

Good luck!