The weekly herding: embracing rejection and rejecting writing

It’s that time again/already, when I take a look at the most eye-catching nuggets of information that have crossed my path during the week.


To write or to read, that is also a question

This is exactly how I look when I’m reading. Exactly

On the Books Ireland website, poet, writer and journalist Joe Horgan argues the case for reading over writing. Writing for him, he says, is an annoyance, ‘a nagging at the back of the mind… rearranging the furniture so that I stop bumping into things’. Reading, however, is a wonderful escape – ‘the imaginary library of my mind is a place I’d never want to leave’.

I enjoyed this article because it captures that exasperating love-hate relationship so many of us have with writing (that classic hating writing but loving having written syndrome). On the one hand, a passion for reading is surely what leads one to want to write. Yet the constant, niggling imperative to write does get in the way of a jolly good read. And given a choice, who wouldn’t prefer to let someone else do the hard work, creating a world to escape to while you sit, feet up with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive or 10?


Say yes to the nos

There was a thoughtful article in Lit Hub this week that puts a positive spin on rejection. Writer Kim Liao talks about initially being nervous of sending her work out into the world because she equated rejection with failure. Then a writer friend who was experiencing a higher degree of success advised her to change her goals, “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.” Much to Liao’s surprise, her friend’s friend’s advice worked.

Liao also uses this very interesting analogy to show how productive the ‘fail, fail better’ principle is:

‘In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work, while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block’ – Kim Liao, Lit Hub

‘Paralysed by theorizing about perfection’ is probably something we can all identify with, one way or another.


Submission opportunity

Time to write about your International Space Station experience?

The rather lovely Severine literary journal is now open for submissions. Each issue is themed, and the theme for issue five is Space – in whatever way you wish to interpret that. Send them your spaciest art, poetry, short stories or essays by July 31.

Seeing their call out inspired me to write a story for the first time in about two months. I’ll certainly submit it for consideration if I can knock it into shape sufficiently, but I’m already grateful to them for putting out a prompt that inspired me to get over the writing doldrums I currently find myself in.

To get an idea of what they look for in their contributors,  you can read issue four here, which has the theme Heroes. I absolutely insist you read the story on page 11, ‘Harrison Ford is Ready’ – it is fa-bu-lous.


Short story competition

The Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2016/2017  is now open for entries. Stories should be a maximum of 6,000 words and the entry fee is £10. First prize is a choice between £1,000 or a year of editorial support from Galley Press. In addition, all shortlisted and longlisted stories will be available to purchase online for £1, with 50% of the earnings going to the respective writers. Last year’s volumes were beautifully presented.

This is only the second year the competition has been run, but Galley Press clearly has an eye for talent – last year’s winner was Ríona Judge McCormack, who also won the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award and has since acquired an agent and a publishing deal.

The deadline for entries is September 30.


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