New Prefix needed

Judging Publishers

Rehabilitation? Serial Killer narrates Audiobooks

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Andrew Okey

Aug 8, 2017
Could we please have some new thread prefixes? I'm thinking either or both of "Howl of existential despair" (logo based on Munch's The Scream) and/or "Near miss" (logo of ball bouncing off goal-post).

I'd like to use both, right now. Two months ago I'd never written a short story. Not ever. But I'd been toying with one very powerful idea for 20 years (things move s-l-o-wl-y in my brain) and it perfectly match the brief for an upcoming writing competition, so I threw myself at it. The competition was massively exciting, as it offered 5 unpublished writers slots in an anthology alongside some really well established (and totally fabulous) authors.

The competition editor/judge has just now mailed me to say that (I'm paraphrasing, but only very slightly) "your story is totally brilliant and totally publishable, only I'm not going to publish it (as if!) on the basis of obscure and undefinable considerations to do with the balance of the anthology".

I know this is just a scream of despair on a crummy Friday afternoon, and that this is our communal world and we've all been there, but someone share my pain, please.
Oh no! HOWL! So sorry Andrew. Yes. Been there. Well, later, when the howling subsides, may you take comfort from the fact that you did the work, you clearly dun it GOOD and someone else will therefore indubitably publish it.
That's harsh, Andrew, but at least the editor/judge had the good grace to contact you to say how good your story is—which beats the deafening silence of most such decision makers. Your experience shows how decisions about the balance of a publisher's list can override literary worth.

I entered about twenty competitions this year, with some results to be announced early in 2018. One thing I noticed about the competition world, was that there are some writers who specialise in them, as their names appear again and again. As is the way with the world of writing, there are plenty of gurus offering advice on how to win such contests.

Although it can happen, that a competition winner goes on to secure a publishing contract and even makes a successful career from that, I found plenty of examples of competition winners who had never published a book, including self-publishing. In other words, they're a specialist species of writer who've found their niche.

The discipline needed to write a compelling short story or poem for a competition made me think that I was involved in literary dressage, getting my literary horsey to make all of the right moves. Whereas, writing a novel feels more like galloping a horse cross-country!

Your fine short story will eventually find a home elsewhere, maybe winning a different competition.
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First of all, welcome to the Colony, @Andrew Okey! Secondly, why haven't you submitted it anywhere else? It's only one contest, and an anthology inclusion at that. Send that puppy out there! You already have positive feedback about it. Build on that. Go. Now. Do it. :)
Thanks everyone, that's really kind (thanks for the greetings, Carol, and I love the idea of literary dressage - thanks Paul!).

There are certainly other potentially viable competitions out there, its just that this particular one - and I need to be careful what I say, because it wouldn't be fair to identify anyone - had a very specific geographic brief that happened to exactly match what I had in mind. I don't know whether, shorn of that particular context, my story will have quite the same lustre. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I have a second novel that's almost ready to write and - draws deep, faltering breath - a pop-up submission to attend to. Happy Sunday everyone. A.
This sounds like you're on the right track, Andrew! We'll be waiting for an ecstatic post from you, saying you've placed it somewhere else, and sucks to them. :D
I second all that's gone before. Keep sending those words out until somebody gets them. Your words are obviously good ones. Welcome to the Colony, Andrew!
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Judging Publishers

Rehabilitation? Serial Killer narrates Audiobooks