|Maybe you're just a number two.|
Another momentous Wimbledon has come and gone - a tale of heroism, endeavour, victory and defeat. Basically it's been like watching a writing tournament, only with tennis racquets. Hang on, I hear you shout, we don't have writing tournaments unless you mean competitions. No, I mean the whole experience of being a writer.
You train (just go with me on this), you perfect your skills and you try not to drop the ball. Some will triumph and some will fall, but sooner or later every writer - and I mean every one - will have a defining moment that gives them clarity about their approach and their ability.
It could be that short story competition where you failed to win a prize by just two judges' points. Perhaps it's that first novel rejection - in every sense - where you either cry into your beer and give up, or cry into your beer and vow to prove them wrong.*
I put it to you that it's our failures that define us. We can't all be Booker winners and from now on none of us will be Orange Fiction Pize winners. I think I can also say, with some confidence, that most of us won't get agents or bank-busting three-book deals.
So why go through the submissions mill? Why aim for the stars?
Think back, those of you who've had your work rejected in the past. If you're still writing, I'd be willing to wager that you learned important things from a good rejection - one where you learned something about your work. I guarantee that by the time you finished your next complete edit you cringed at the very idea you'd submitted the previous version. I know I have - several times!
One of my defining moments was when our writing group used to meet at Susie's. We were bemoaning the carousel of submissions, waiting and disappointment. The subject of revisions came up and Kath said that it was about producing the best work possible. That's when it came to me. I knew that I only wanted to do the minimum number of edits necessary. Not because I'm a lazy sod. Well, not exactly.
I want to enjoy the process of writing and I accept that it's a learning curve. But there comes a point where, after 'x' number of edits (and it varies according to each novel I've written), I would rather stop before I tear the heart out of the piece. I'd rather learn the lessons, set it aside and pour my passion into something new. I'm not entirely sure whether that's a victory or a failure.
What have your writing rejections and failures taught you?
* Let me say for the record that I don't much care for beer or crying.