BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

“It’s all down to luck…but the harder I work the luckier I get”

Booker long listToday is the day they will announce the winner of the 2013 Booker Prize (as I write Jim Crace seems to be the favourite with Colm Toibin a close second), but I don’t want to focus on the winner. I want to talk about Donal Ryan, an Irish Civil Servant whose debut novel The Spinning Heart was in the 13 strong Booker long list. He didn’t make the final cut but I think he is probably going to be the real winner of the competition.

His novel was rejected 47 times before a small Dublin publishing company Lilliput Press took him on. According to the Irish Independent, it was plucked out of the slush pile by an intern who raved about it to the publisher.

47 times.
He said the rejections didn’t hurt much because they were mostly standard pre-printed form letters. It would have been worse if they had been personal.
47 times and he didn’t come close.
47 times and he didn’t give up.

And a bit of luck the 48th time…the most junior person in the place read it and liked it and he wasn’t too shy to say so and he told the right person at the right time…

When would you have given up if you were Donal Ryan? Do rejection slips hurt or are you able to shrug them off? Is there a point when you should give up – for sanity’s sake?

photo credit: cloud_nine via photopin cc

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6 comments on ““It’s all down to luck…but the harder I work the luckier I get”

  1. ann perrin
    October 15, 2013

    Ii would never give up if I were him, BUT THEN HE DIDN’T. Well done to get so far. I do agree with a lot of making ones own luck, but it gets very tiring, given up myself at least three times over the years for my sanity, but somehow one still sticks things away in a cupboard and has another little re-write from time to time. My first manuscript stayed in a publishers garage for a year I later discovered My children’s picture book never happened, with a change of editor.
    I’m just a poet now and a bit of a script writer but for you novelists STAY IN THE RING AND KEEP AT IT. Oh and DON’T LET NETWORKING TAKE YOU OVER, KEEP WRITING X

  2. bridget whelan
    October 15, 2013

    Good advice about the networking not being allowed to dominate. I so admire Ryans’s self belief and his novel does sound good. Short – told in multiple voices – all about the aftermath of the economic crash in Ireland

  3. Laura Marcus
    October 15, 2013

    If at first I don’t succeed I always give up… or I hire a hit man. Or woman.

  4. Pingback: What if Someone Secretly Made a Film of Your Life…? The question that launched a self-published novel the Daily Mirror called ‘one of this year’s must-reads’ | BRIDGET WHELAN writer

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