On failure.

Well I failed to place anywhere in the Bridport Prize. I feel silly and foolish because I was actually quite optimistic which is most unlike me. I really liked my story, and there was something in the way of positive thinking and all that which made me imagine that I was in with a chance. I was after first place and didn’t even make 13th!
In many ways I am crippled with self doubt and worry that too many people delude themselves into imagining they have a talent. I do not want to be one of them. Yet also when it comes to my writing I can be full of conviction that I am … I don’t know…talented/able to put words together in a usefully descriptive and emotive way. I truly thought that my story was strong and interesting, and good quality.
Not good enough though. Boom, fantasy over. I really am such an idiot. I thought I should write this down and share my embarrassment.
We are really struggling financially as a family, and perhaps I should just try and get extra hours in the bookshop and sell other peoples words rather than sit here grinding out words that are shit.

6 thoughts on “On failure.”

  1. yeah but look, it ain’t like that…you know loads of people with loads of diverse, unbound and unfettered talents… and they all struggle to get even their top knot above the parapet as far as being published, exhibited, released or even recognised….and you can add your own gargantuan talent for writing to that list…if it was about talent as such then the charts, art galleries and book shelves would be filled with you and people you know…but there are other factors at work…..aleister crowley points out, for example, that you can be the best painter in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell paintings it will be impossible to move even a step forward, and the commercial world, as it’s currently constituted, is an absolute minefield….it’s become less about talent than ever in human history…there are other agendas…..f’rinstance, in the early 70’s a band would get signed to a label on the assumption that they would develop and grow, and the patronage of the label was there to encourage that, and that was part and parcel of the deal…you could get three or four albums released that didn’t sell before they would consider you a failure and end the contract..absloutely no one bought the first three albums Yes made, and they went on to break the bank….or, in the 80’s, the first couple of seasons of Only Fools and Horses went almost completely unwatched…in every way imaginable it was a complete failure..now it’s a staple of BBC history…..but they stuck with it to see if it could grow and develop…….the situation is quite the reverse these days….i hear of bands who are selling loads of albums, with a big following, getting dumped by their label, and a series on TV won’t get a second go at success if it doesn’t immediately get the ratings and reviews, the bar of which is set incredibly high……and this is even true of writing….i heard a publisher interviewed recently saying that a particular author was signed up because they thought he would interview well and be a ‘good celebrity’..they had a photo shoot and everything!!!……there’s a kind of mass block out caused by the current notions of commerce and celebrity that’s bringing all kinds of art to it’s knees….. and it’s never been more true that it’s who you know rather than what that really gets your foot in the door….you might not be writing the TYPE of work that publishers think they can sell, in exactly the same way that i’m not writing the TYPE of music that labels “want”……and the reasons they want it are nothing to do with the quality of it…there’s a risk aversion in art publishing right across the board that’s excluding anyone who isn’t doing things exactly by the numbers, in the way that numbers are currently perceived by the powers that be… which is why everything sucks……it’s risk that produces all the steps forward in art/culture…and no one has the necessary dimension of nuts to do it right now……sadly….but, the point is, it’s not to do with what you’re writing, or what i’m recording, or what someone somewhere is painting as we speak…….the publishing industries are fucked by their own small mindedness and greed….so you shouldn’t have called it ‘on failure ‘…more like ‘on living in an out of control capitalist end-time where culture has no value or meaning’…and it’s not deluding yourself that you have talent…you do, but you live in a time and place where that won’t necessarily count…terrifyingly…whichbisn’t to say i don’t feel the same…i sit at the mixing desk sometimes and think “why the hell are you bothering?”…but it’s the work itself that matters……and even with all that said, i still think that persistence pays off…you have to stick with it, because you just never know…the only way to absolutely ensure that your plan won’t work is to abandon it…as long as you don’t do that, it’s still schrodinger’s cat.ma

  2. Of course what you say is right. I know many talented people who haven’t been able to achieve all they would want. I know how subjective writing is too. I was feeling wallowy! Plus, I really had a feeling about this competition, and I usually trust my instincts. Huh! Stupid instincts.I have re-read my entry and it’s way more muddled than I meant it to be. It’s all a learning curve, and yes, I will continue to write because that’s who I am. I am a storyteller, always have been. I feel really down at the moment, I have a stinky cold and hormonal insanity going on. I am cross because I could almost feel the possibility of achieving what I want. I don’t want to sound like an X-Factor contestant though, “I want it so much” etcetera…”It’s my dream”…it’s not the end.Thank you for taking the time to reply.X

  3. All this means is that the judges were fools. Have you seen the story that won? I bet it was shite and about single mum land mine victims or something. Plenty of clever people think your stories are ace. As Kate Bush would tell Peter Gabriel: “don’t give up.”

  4. ..actually, i think kellie has the right idea…and with characterisitic scottish economy!…that was probably what i was getting at….dunderheed gobshites…if you feel like an x factor contestant you should confront the judges : “well, you’re entitled to your opinion but i disagree, and i am going to sell 1000000000 books within three months…” then chuck water on them…ma

  5. have you posted your story anyplace so that we can read it and maybe tell you what we feel about your writing. maybe you have talent. not everyone makes it initially.

  6. No, the story isn’t posted anywhere. In fact I have just done a tiny edit and sent it off to another competition. I still have faith in it!If you do want to read any of my work I have a couple of stories that have been published at Pulp. Net.

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