Learning to Fly

I open the email and read that I’ve been longlisted. And I’m delighted. Of course I’m delighted.

But I also feel that I should be more thrilled than I am. And then I feel guilty and ungracious for that feeling, because ultimately, what this means is that several people have read my work and they’re giving me positive feedback. What right do I have to feel disappointed? I check myself. It’s not because I believe my work is so brilliant that it deserves to win – so what’s my problem? 

Much like the bird that has been feeding her hatchlings in the eaves of my studio every 15 minutes throughout the day for weeks, patiently working and waiting for a time when she can safely nudge them out of the nest, I bide my time and watch for the right moment before I nudge my work into the world. I want it to have the best chance of taking flight. 

Submitting something for publication or a competition is daunting and it’s a process that I’ve only recently started to go through with my novel. In the case of this longlist news, it’s the first time that I’ve sent a large chunk of my novel out into the unknown and I think the reason I’m not feeling ecstatic about being longlisted is related to the way the news was delivered. 

In the same email where I read I’ve been longlisted, I also read that I haven’t been shortlisted. The two pieces of news arrive together and cancel each other out. Like a shit sandwich, with only once slice of good stuff; an open sandwich, if you like.

Maybe if I’d heard a couple of weeks ago that I’d been longlisted, I would have been over the moon and my hopes of winning would have been higher. Perhaps if the news had been delivered that way, I would be even more devastated right now to hear that I haven’t actually won. Who can say? The end result is the same, I made the longlist but I can’t justify cracking open anything bubbly.

What it tells me is that U have more work to do. My work doesn’t quite have enough muscle and feathers yet to fly, but it shows promise and my hopes in it aren’t entirely misplaced.

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