Well I will be giving up my day job this very week, and I had hoped to have some encouraging news to spur me on into my new life as a writer.
Instead, I have had three rejections in as many weeks. Two short stories were turned down by magazines and my novel, Unspeakable Things failed to get longlisted in a competition.
You’d think I’d be downhearted, doubtful and afraid I’m doing the wrong thing. But I have surprised myself.
I have found my Chumbawamba Factor.
Remember Chumawumba’s 1997 hit Tubthumping?:
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down
(Repeat. Then repeat again. You get the picture.)
This was the theme tune of a women’s football team I once played for that just kept on losing. As we trudged back into position after conceding yet another goal, our player-manager used to yell,
Because in football, if you’re head goes down, you lose focus, and things only get worse.
So as multiple rejections hurled me to the ground this week, I needed to find the mental strength to get up again. I found it in the tennis news.
When I turned on the radio, Andy Murray and Johanna Konta were both in the Australian Open Semi-finals. Let’s be honest about Andy Murray. In the early days, we all suspected he was never going to make it, didn’t we? When a buzz first surrounded him at Wimbledon, he didn’t even have the fitness he needed to succeed. But he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of his dream. After every setback, he picked himself up and kept going. Crucially, he found the right people to train him, and he was prepared to go anywhere in the world to work with them. Listen to Murray after any match, whether he has won or lost: his trademark is an uncompromising assessment of his performance.
He works out what was good and what was not good enough, and he uses that to move on.
After Johanna Konta beat Zhang Shuai in the quarter-finals, every word out of her mouth was testament to the mental strength that had got her there. Working with a mind coach, Konta had learned not to view every upturn or setback as a life-or-death struggle, but to focus on
‘…where my happiness comes from. Why do I play tennis?’
This sense of perspective had improved her game, helping her towards achieving
‘the dreams of my 11-year-old self’.
Reader, I got up again. I read a blog post in the brilliant womagwriter’s blog http://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/interview-with-womagwriter-glenda-young.html about a woman who had just had a story published in a magazine, thanks to reading Della Galton’s book How to Write and Sell Short Stories. A few clicks and a dirt-cheap ex-library copy was on its way to me.
I read the one-page report on my novel from the competition and began to digest its positives and negatives. There’s a lot of encouragement there to keep me going, and some advice that I can take on board. I can’t wait to work on Unspeakable Things again; writing-wise this novel is my first love, and nothing I’ve done since means as much.
Like Andy Murray working on his backhand, I need to get the right advice and make my writing better. And like Johanna Konta, I need to remember where my happiness lies – in my case not on a tennis court but at the computer screen, with my first love laid out before me, a story waiting to be written.
And finally – save on rubber gloves!
In the meantime, for those of you after money-saving tips, there’s plenty of inspiration this week, with extreme couponner Jordan Cox discovering that rather than catching the train from Sheffield to Essex, it can be cheaper to fly via Berlin (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/deals-hunter/2016/01/26/flew-home-via-berlin-cheaper-than-train/).
At the same time ‘Britain’s most frugal pensioner’ hit the headlines, living on £2,400 a year and never spending more than £1 on a meal (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/…/Most-thrifty-pensioner-in-Britain).
I can’t beat either of these two for frugality but I do have one tip for you. If one rubber glove gets a hole in it, throw it away but keep the other one. Next time this happens (and in our house it’s always the right glove that goes), dig out the remaining intact glove (always the left), turn it inside out and use it with the surviving left glove. It looks silly but works just the same.