Thursday, 28 April 2016

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

One of the reasons it's been so quiet here over the last few weeks is because I entered my novel for the Bath Novel Award. It was perhaps a little premature as I'm still editing parts of it, but it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss as the judge - Susan Armstrong of Conville & Walsh - genuinely seemed to be open to any genre. I've found that to be quite a rare thing in novel competitions. Often the contest organisers will say they don't have any particular theme or genre preferences, but when you look at the judge's profile (they're typically a literary agent) it's often the case that they'll say they're not interested in crime, or romance, or - in the case of my book - science fiction. So I thought it was worth a go, even if it resulted in some frantic last-minute editing and proofreading (the full manuscript is only called in if you make the longlist).

The longlist went up yesterday, and A Man Repeated was not among those chosen titles. By that point I was almost hoping it wouldn't be, as I was beginning to doubt I could deliver the finished book in time, but it was still very disappointing to discover my opening chapters hadn't caught the readers' eye. From the sounds of things, literary, historical, and Young Adult fiction reign supreme this year - or at least, those appear to be the type of book favoured by the initial readers who've compiled the longlist. Still, I'm in good company - over a thousand other writers also fell short at this stage of the contest. (Which makes me realise this competition has taken in well over £22,000 in entry fees - wow)

So, slightly relieved, mostly gutted, I took to Twitter to see how other people were responding to the longlist's publication. I was pleased that one of the first tweets I saw on the subject was this one:



Because that's exactly what I was planning on making myself do (after a small amount of sulking and a cup of tea). It's easy to convince yourself, when you get a knockback like failing to make the longlist of a competition, that you're wasting your time and you'll never get over all the various hurdles between not having a book deal and being a published author. But, as so many people have said, the only way to fail is to stop trying. Instead, you need to embrace the Galaxy Quest-sourced title of this post, and just plough on regardless.

While I had this in mind, I spotted that my friend Karen had posted the video below on Facebook. I thought it worked as a great metaphor for this whole business of trying to get your writing published/accepted/noticed. As the clip shows, no matter whether you're a small dog hoping to get onto a comfy sofa, or a hopeful author striving to get your book into Waterstones, the only thing to do is to keep trying...


... because, eventually, you'll get where you want to be. And all that effort will be worthwhile.