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!