Picking winners

Featured in

  • Published 20090303
  • ISBN: 9780733323942
  • Extent: 256 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

YESTERDAY, AT THE races, someone I was making small talk with asked if I missed journalism. Two champagnes into the day, I was in an honest mood. ‘What I miss,’ I said, ‘is getting published. I used to write four or five thousand words a week and every word made it into the paper. With what I’m doing now, there are a lot more rejections than acceptances.’

‘What I’m doing now’ is writing fiction and creative non-fiction. I still write four or five thousand words a week, but each short story or essay can go out in the mail ten times before it finds a home, or I consign it to the hopeless-case bin. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing thirty yo-yos at once: in; out; underway; on the way back again. Some pieces have been bouncing back and forth for years; others are snapped up on their first outing, like juicy flies thrown to hungry trout. Most are not – a statistical probability as each piece can be rejected many times, but accepted only once. The word ‘congratulations’ in my email inbox, is a good sign. These occasional ‘yeses’ in a thicket of ‘nos’ have engendered a gambler’s response in me – the very rarity keeps me trying, it feels as much like luck as anything.

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