It is that time of the year again. The time when a new flock of celebrity writer hopefuls are invited for the prestigious Farafina Writing Workshop. I have said my bit about the workshop (Google: Farafina Workshop Lottery) so I won’t say anything about the event now.
Now, I want to speak to those who applied and somehow didn’t get on the list of 24.
I have a word for you and this is it.
1. Rejection doesn’t exist
I know that sounds ludicrous but would like you to think about it. If every entry the judges got was excellent and they chose solely by merit they would still have just 24 slots to fill.
That means that not being taken might not be a reflection ofyour talent or skill but just a question of feasibility.
Or maybe your writing sample on a gay romance fell into the hands of a homophobe.
Or the slush pile sorter had a Twitfight with you once.
Whatever it was, don’t take it personal. If you sent in your best work after writing 2-4 drafts, making all kinds of ammendments, passing it through 2 beta readers and an editor, then that’s all you can do. Rest. Don’t sweat it, it is out of your hands now.
2. Keep getting better
I can’t say this enough. Being a writer means writing. Being a great writer means constantly improving. If you let this break your heart and your will and mess with your dreams then the joke is on you.
But, I guarantee you, if you keep working on your craft, improving your art and building your publication credits, one day you will look back at this event with a smile.
You’d have graduated from attending workshops to hosting them.
3. Workshop not magic wand
Workshops are great. They can create space for you to look more critically at your work. They can make you more visible. They can even lead to being published.
Workshops are not magic wands.
They will not make up for the fact that you haven’t read anything this year but Tweets and Facebook posts.
They will not fix your grammar.
They won’t earn you a loyal, loving, vocal follower base that yearns to read your next release and make it viral.
They won’t sit your bum down to finish that wonderful book you’ve been planning to write for ten years.
A workshop is just a workshop.
You are the one with the magic wand.
Only this time the magic wand is work.
You have to do the work.
No workshop will do the work for you.
4 . The world is bigger than Farafina
Believe me, there are so many people and places out there that want to read your work. Especially if it is fresh, tight, polished, and finished.
Write for your Facebook friends and get feedback.
Consider joining sites like Naija Stories.
Finish the works you have in progress.
Send your work to magazines blogs and journals.
Send some of your work to us. (we pay by the way).
Get a beta reader, get two beta readers.
Get an editor.
Mbue Imbolo, a Cameroonian, sold her debut novel for two million dollars and she has never been to a Farafina workshop.
Use the resources around you to find ways to be read. Don’t look down. Look up. Look around
5. Channel your pain
It still hurts that you won’t be there to drink at the divine fount of literary genius.
You are still refreshing your email, ransacking your spam, drowning a pint, and nursing a pot of anger in your belly.
That is good.
It means you have fuel. You have something inside you that can be channelled to create
Some of the best art comes from a place of pain.
Don’t waste your energy. Re-channel it.
6 . Try Again
Yup. Don’t give up. If being on the Farafina Shortlist is still important to you, then don’t give up. Try again. Try next year. And the next and …
But even if you have sworn never to let them hurt you again then try again still.
Try at a different place.
Try having bigger writing dreams.
Try placing yourself on a strict daily/weekly writing schedule and being faithful to it.
Try setting writing goals for 2016.
Whatever you do, however you feel,
Don’t give up.
Don’t give in.
Don’t get bitter.
Keep being the great writer you’re were born to be.