Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

It’s nice to be invited to contribute a story to an anthology. It’s difficult to turn down such opportunities; you don’t know if the editor will ask you again. So you agree, thinking, ha, the deadline is months off, all will be neato mosquito

It’s great (though rare) when you have an instant idea that you know will fit, or you find a promising fragment from your ideas folder that, with some persuasion, might match the brief you’ve been sent. What’s less great is being blocked, especially when you’ve emailed to say yes, thank you, I’d love to send you something. Weeks go by. That fluffy deadline making cow eyes at you becomes a Stygian pit ringed with teeth at the foot of a slippery incline that you are now standing on, wearing shoes fashioned from banana skins.

With great relief I’ve just submitted a story for an anthology*. The deadline was the start of September (the invitation came in April), but the editor made it clear he was running late and would be reading for the book throughout the rest of this month.

The story I sent was my ninth attempt.

The previous eight efforts came to nothing and total around 6000 words. The longest piece was around 4500 words, the shortest, just 28. I was close to admitting defeat and telling the editor that my muse just wouldn’t put out for me this time. I suppose I should be grateful that I recognised there was a problem and bailed, despite all the work. Anyway, I decided to give it one more try and finally produced something I’m happy with.

Never give up is the message, I guess. Plough that seemingly barren field because you might just unearth a delicious potato. And those 6000 words will somehow not be a waste, even if I never actually use them for anything else…

*Of course, there’s no guarantee the story will be accepted…

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