Advice from a would-be Literary Agent…

Harry – who is thirteen and often wiser and deeper than his years – has told me that I need to focus on writing something ‘big’. By this I assume his implication is that working on Writeral, writing poems, and tackling the ‘100-word challenge’ are largely a waste of time.

I might argue that – in sequence – they are i) good for my ‘brand’, ii) helping me decide if I’m more a poet than a novelist, and iii) fun and great for discipline. I haven’t dared challenge him on these rebuttals, fearing the comeback “Who are you kidding?”…

He may be right, of course; the clarity of a young person’s eye, and all that.

He might also suggest that entering competitions is a waste of time too. I haven’t yet pressed him on that one… These are, of course, more about self-esteem than anything else – they’re certainly not about the money! And self-esteem, although critical to a 13-year-old, is probably not truly understood as a concept until you are much older (and have ‘lost it’ many, many times!). Anyway, the problem with competitions is that very few people actually win them and often the result – in terms of self-esteem – is the very opposite of what was desired.

A case in point. I recently entered my local Writing Group’s short story competition – and discovered this morning that I failed to finish in the top four. So even an each-way bet would have lost me money! Like everyone else, I had wanted to win. Maybe I didn’t take it seriously enough, just submitting something I had to-hand, already written. Maybe it wasn’t actually a ‘short story’; it certainly didn’t meet the criteria given by the ‘adjudicator’ at the meeting last night (at which I was not present, by the way, Tuscany being so much more appealing!). So it probably shouldn’t have been a shock not to feature. And he might actually have loved it, and said so in the session – who knows?

In any event, it’s one of those many examples of a planned boost to self-esteem failing to deliver. Another glance into the foggy mirror of reflection and fearing mediocrity (we’d all like to look like Brad or Angelina, and can’t help being Ted or Doris…).

And a reason to think about what my son has suggested and take it seriously. He’s probably more right than I am…

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