So, I didn’t win the Kelpies Prize the other week. I won’t deny that I was really keen to win, but just finding myself on the shortlist was a thrill, and I think it will serve me well in my future efforts to get my book published.
How’s that for magnanimity?
What’s that you’re saying at the back there? You don’t believe me? Well, you should. I genuinely am ok with my new status of ‘shortlisted writer’. And the event itself was fantastic. I met some great people, including my fellow shortlisted writers and the folk from Kelpies. I also enjoyed the utter thrill of hearing an excerpt of my book being read to the guests by Janis Mackay, storyteller and childrens’ author extraordinaire.
Not that I arrived at this place of emotional serenity immediately after the announcement. I didn’t leap out of that prize ceremony roller coaster shouting “wow, that was AMAZING!”, pose for a “I rode the Kelpies” photograph, and run directly to the next ride. I’m only human, and therefore not entirely without some complex emotions. But I have found myself, just a couple of weeks or so later, on an even keel and ready to (warning – personal development phrasing alert) ‘move on’.
Having been trained in the art of giving and receiving feedback at work (“Try not to look quite so terrified when pouring that Laurent Perrier in severe turbulence”), I was aware that what I experienced in the days following the ceremony was pretty close to the response most of us have when given feedback of any sort. I refer, of course, to DERAC.
D = DENIAL. If fantasizing for a few days afterwards that it had in fact been me up on stage collecting the publishing deal and a comedy-sized cardboard cheque is denial, then, yes. Check that box.
E = EMOTION. Yes. There was emotion. All sorts.
R = RATIONALISATION. “It’s not the end of the world. Nobody died. None of this will matter one day”. (Like when I’m dead).
A = ACCEPTANCE. I was shortlisted. That’s the focus. We can’t all be the winner. The short-listing was the winning. I am a winner. Just not the winner of a publishing deal and a large, comedy-sized cardboard cheque. That’s all. No biggie. (I hate that phrase. Why have I used it?)
C = CHANGE/CONTINUE. I think I’m at this stage. And exhibiting both possible reactions. I am continuing to write and continuing to stay positive. I have also changed my perspective on the past few weeks: the short-listing is all positive and can only help me in my writing career. It isn’t a question of not winning. It is a question of making it to the all-important shortlist.
And this is an entirely acceptable and accurate account of how I have dealt with the situation.
There is, however, an alternative, and equally accurate version of events. It also has the advantage of a more memorable acronym, because let’s be honest….DERAC? Somebody thought this up. And now employees across the english-speaking world use this uninspiring acronym to learn how to cope when someone tells you you’re a bit crap.
People, I give you (and no sniggering please; I’m sleep-deprived and likely to cry at any minute) DABHANDED. This acronym will surely soon be rolling off the tongues of eager ‘learning day’ delegates in badly ventilated conference rooms the length and breadth of the country. And now I shall proceed to demonstrate how it worked for me and my emotional journey.
D = DISAPPOINTMENT/DENIAL/DESPAIR/DESPONDENCY (delete as appropriate).
A = ALCOHOL.
B = BREAKDOWN. A minor one when we arrived home. A direct result of the disappointment/denial/despair/despondency in tandem with the alcohol consumed in the hours following the award giving.
H = HANGOVER.
A = ANGER. With myself, my situation, my not winning. Actually, with pretty much anything and everyone. A direct result of the hangover.
N = NEEDY. Because I became suddenly very needy of everyone.
D = DECIDE. I decided this sate of affairs was ridiculous.
E = EMOTION. In that I looked for a more pragmatic and constructive one. I opted for ‘happy’
D = DETERMINATION. I am now determined more than ever that my book will find an agent and be published.
And there you have it: two versions of a similar process. They both see me in a good place…happy and determined to continue putting my manuscript out there until someone (let’s, for the sake of argument, call them “Angel”) decides that it is worthy of the printed page.
In the meantime, the writing continues. As it always will. Regardless.