Recently, a friend asked me if I won all the awards I ever entered.
“I wish!” I replied, and then, when I had stopped laughing and then crying and then laughing again, I added: “You should see my submission spreadsheet.”
For reasons unknown, my friend wasn’t that eager to see my submission spreadsheet. But if he had seen it, he may have noticed the long streaks of grey in the STATUS column.
‘Wow,’ he might have then said. ‘You would never have guessed that from Instagram.’
And he would have been right.
Pictured: me, receiving a short story award, smiling so much that my cheekbones are on the verge of crushing my eyeballs.
Not pictured: me, sitting in front of my computer, my chest slowly collapsing in on itself, because I only have a fifteen minute window to write and the words Simply. Won’t. Come and NOBODY WILL EVER PUBLISH ME ANYWAY.
Pictured: me, wearing the same smile described above but dialled up to 11, about to walk into a fancy hotel to receive a major prize.
Not pictured: me, obsessively checking my email on my phone for an email that will never come.
Pictured: me, signing my first book contract as my partner opens a fancy bottle of champagne in the background.
Not pictured: me, receiving another ‘Dear Valued Writer’ rejection email and then drinking a bottle of Passion Pop with a curly straw.
So for all you onlookers and struggling writers out there, remember this: behind every win is a spreadsheet’s worth of rejection. Behind every smile are buckets of spent tears. Behind every published word are a hundred thousand unpublished words.
Unless, of course, you’re like that writer I once saw on a panel whose first book was written on a whim, shortlisted for the only thing she entered it into and published by the first publisher who read it. But even then that writer must have bad hair days, right? RIGHT??
Pictured: me, having a bad hair day AND receiving a short story award.