Wednesday, 27 December 2006

This literary life?

If anything makes this blog interesting to read, it'll be not that I'm a good writer, but that I'm extraordinarily bad. At the grand old age of nineteen, I've already collected enough rejection slips to stock the fireplace of every room in the house and never need central heating again. That's if we had working fireplaces.

I suppose I am a little disillusioned. I wrote Novenary when I was sixteen and I thought I'd cracked it. But I never wrote anything that good again, and I'm no better a writer now than I was three years ago. For which I only have myself to blame. I have been lazy and I am being lazy and I need to stop being lazy, but for some reason it's so hard to motivate myself to write, even though that's what I base my existence on. I always planned to have my first book of poetry published in my twenties, so I could be well-established by the time I'm forty, and I never thought that would be a problem. Now I sometimes doubt I'll ever get a collection together at all, if I live to be a hundred.

But we push on, and I'm planning my New Year's submissions from the competitions advertised in my Mslexia diary. Anything in print now would be such a boost. It's been so long. There's The Wigtown for 26th January, for which I could submit any number of things. The Dying Woman, perhaps? Might have another look at that. There's also A Ruined Castle (note to self: think up more imaginative titles) which I'm loathe to give up on because it's controlled and it took me fucking ages. The Foyle last year were kind enough to write and say it had made their shortlist of twenty, so it must have some merit. There's House Party (another stupid title, makes me think of Noel Edmunds) which Indigo Dreams never got back to me about, despite the SAE. Rudeness. So, yes, one of those three. I don't think the Thailand one is salvageable - it just got too silly. There's also the Grace Dieu for 28th February, which can take another of the three. I can't afford to send multiple entries. I wanted to submit The Stone Angel, a short story I wrote in October, to The Biscuit Flash Fiction Prize but it turns out it's too short even for flash fiction. There's also something called Undiscovered Authors. I'm toying with the idea of, if I do well in that poetry essay, getting some advice on it, giving it a huge overhaul and submitting it for the academic section. But I think that might be ridiculous. Still, I needn't tell anybody.


Rob said...

Good luck with the Wigtown competition – that will be a very tough field, but you’ve as good a chance as anyone.

Do you know about the Poetry Kit competition page? That might give you a few other options to aim at as well.

Decidedly Bookish said...

Yes, except the people who happen to write better! But you're right - it's a tough field. Perhaps too tough. I might find something smaller instead. Or, indeed, as well, but make sure I save the best for Wigtown. Thanks for the wise words xxx

Rob said...

I would say, "as well." You never know.

By the way, on your comments on rejection - rejection is a way of life for poets. I have always had more rejections than acceptances. If you get rejected every time, maybe you're trying the wrong magazines. It might be about the poems, but not necessarily.

Mary Paddock said...

The rejection slip pile is almost always bigger than the acceptance pile.

I have a folder in my inbox for rejection slips. I haven't counted them lately, but I'm pretty sure there are at are atleast ten rejection slips in there from just 2005 (I only subbed four times in 2006--and had one acceptance). My computer crashed at some point, so I'm pretty sure there are at least five more not listed. With all of that, in 2005 I had roughly five acceptances.

Poetry is even tougher to break into-especially the "good" journals. The trick is not to give up, keep honing your craft, doing the research as to who publishes what, and keep subbing. Eventually the right poem and the right journal will find each other.