Don’t, don’t you want me…

I just got an email from the good folk at NZ Book month to inform me that, alas, my story didn’t make it through to the finals this year. Which is pretty much what they said last year, and the year before…

Last year I was feeling particularly morose about the rejection and complained (OK whined) to my husband about it. Cam is a pretty straight-forward guy, handy to have around to remind me that my feet need to be anchored to Planet Earth, at least part of the time. Last year he listened patiently to my rant woes and said:

“Well, let’s go back to your rent-free, historical writers-in-residence put on the heater that we don’t have to pay for and you can have a moan there.”

My complaints burnt up during re-entry to the atmosphere.

Last Friday I watched Human Instinct ( I love Robert Winston’s series – evolutionary psychology! Hell yeah! I like looking at humans and how our behaviours are influenced by ancient survival strategies. Sometimes I’ll even look at how people behave and ask “If that was a  wild human would they have survived?” Does that make me a Darwinian groupie/geek?). The episode was about the will to win, and as we are the descendants of those that fought and won on the African Savannah we have the competitive spirit hardwired into us. What was interesting is that although success is felt throughout the body and is very intense at the time, it is forgotten quite quickly – so that we will strive to succeed again. Failure, however, is remembered so that we might avoid the same behaviour that lead to it (I mentioned this to friend on Saturday who said “Oh god! Does that mean when we die and our life flashes before our eyes that we see all our failures and embarrassments?”).

Why then do I keep writing? Rejection is part of being a writer and sometimes it is very bitter indeed; especially when you’ve put your soul into a piece.  It has gotten easier as I have become more experienced, for one simple reason.

You can’t please everyone.

Rachael King wrote a very interesting post on this earlier in the year when the Prize in Modern Letters was awarded. A different judge would have meant a different outcome. Some people loved my play, some people hated it. Cat people vs Dog people (can anyone else see a B-Grade horror in that?).

Just wait until next year Six Pack!

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4 Comments

Filed under On being a Writer

4 responses to “Don’t, don’t you want me…

  1. If it’s any consolation, Whiti, I got the same rejection email. I went ‘hmph’ for a minute, then moved on.

    We may not have even had the same judge. The ‘celebrity judges’ they have assembled only look at the final 10. The 500 entries they had were whittled down by assorted readers around the country.

    I’m interested to read the finalists though. I had trouble making my novel excerpt a stand-alone story, so I didn’t even try in the end – just sent in the first chapter of a novel I have since put on hold! (I told myself if it got through to the finals I would pick it up again but I’m enjoying my new one too much.)

  2. Whiti

    I’m looking forward to see what’s in the mix this year too!
    And I guess if I think logically about it 490 other people got that email as well! I wonder if there were treasures out there that someone didn’t like? Maybe we could start a NZ McSweeneys…

  3. littlegemsession

    I pin my some of my acceptance letters above my desk for moments like those otherwise, like you say, they are forgotten too soon. Yeah! Start a NZ McSeeneys!

  4. Whiti

    What a great idea! Hmm, maybe I should hang a photo of Randell Cottage above my desk .

    I wonder what happens to the stuff that is rejected by McSweeneys as well…Is there a McSweeneys for the McSweeneys rejects? When will it stop?

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