Monday, March 13, 2017

Fail better

Sometimes, learning to write feels largely about learning to deal with rejection.

Over the last three years, I've made some 70-odd submissions, to both competitions and journals. I've had a handful of lucky, shining moments as a result of those submissions. And I've had 60-odd flat-out rejections.

If you've never failed 60-odd times at something, let me tell you now: it fucking sucks.

Never mind those inspirational soft-focus quotes about how character-building it may be, or how every great writer must go through a similar experience. These are lies. Wretched, wretched lies.

What I can say for it is this: you do get a little less afraid of failure. You may even actively begin to court it.

Which is perhaps why I found myself submitting on four separate occasions to one particular journal. It helped that I had met the editor, Brendan Barrington of Penguin Ireland, and that he happens to be possibly the nicest man on the planet. (One agent I spoke with called him the "great gentleman of Irish publishing", and I can't think of a better turn of phrase). He also writes the most encouraging rejection letters.

Still, four times is borderline masochism, I think you'll agree. Which is why I couldn't be more thrilled that this arrived in the post today:

Available in the best Irish bookshops, and online at
[And folks, no, I have no idea what the sodding hell I'm doing sharing a cover with Colm Tóibín]

If you'd like to try it for yourself, Brendan is accepting submissions for upcoming issues now. Pick up this latest volume or any of the back issues for a sample of the fiction and non-fiction he looks for - I guarantee you a spanking good read.

And if your submission doesn't work out the first time, well - Beckett said it best:
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

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