Valentine’s Day – Friday February 14th started with resolve. The previous day had delivered my hopes and dreams a pretty devastating kick in the proverbials and I had dealt with this blow in as positive fashion as I could. I had continued as if nothing had occurred and kept repeating to myself:

“I can do this, I will not be beaten. I will bolster my finances through my writing. I will earn money as a writer”

So it was that February 14th started with resolve and determination. If the kids can fall off that tyre (see previous post)and get straight back up on it time and time again until they master the art of tyre walking, I can pick myself up from whatever life throws and get on with the job of fulfilling my dreams. I greeted Valentine’s Day as Boadicea (see previous post). I knew I had an arsenal of short stories residing in the writer’s airing cupboard, all just languishing and awaiting the day I would finish them, tidy them or get over their initial rejection. The characters were calling me, bored with the confines of a dusty file and vying for my attentions.

“When did I stop trying?”

I asked myself this question knowing without checking that my competitions / magazine submissions records would show a marked depreciation over the past twelve months. It was time to rectify that and make 2014 a bumper year for submissions and successes. First stop, defeat analysis: Why had my submission to the 2013 Words with Jam Bigger Short Story not been placed? It was a good story. I had set out to win. I had selected the competition specifically for this particular story. I had studied the judges style, I had identified an affinity with my theme, I had set out to win. I needed to review the winning entries and see where my story had let me down. I scrolled down the e-mail to find the links for the three successful entries, my eyes searching for the First Place winning entry. I would start at the top. There it was:

Shorter Story Categories Stories up to 1000 words

Winners 1st Prize Street Kids Don’t Have Birthdays by Gill Sainsbury 2nd Prize Sackcloth and Ashes by Justin N Davies 3rd Prize Beneath the Arches by LindsayBamfield

To use that awful text speak that I hate, but which becomes part of daily life: OMG! How could I have missed that? The newsletter had arrived a full five days earlier and I had looked for my name without seeing it. I thought I had failed to make a longlist, let alone a shortlist. I thought I had failed. I had set out to win but I had expected to fail. I simply cannot describe that feeling, here I was determined not to let things get on top of me, determined to find an income stream from within my writing, and there it was, my first pay check. The first three words of the judge’s comments blew me away completely and the tears came hard and fast.

“Convincing, compelling and concise,”

I blubbed. The sense of relief that, is hope (see previous post) blossoming into belief, washed over and through me, it touched every molecule of my being and lit me up from within.

“I can do this; it is not just a dream.”

Does one success make me a successful author? No.   Does one success make me believe I can be?


Thank you to every single child at Amani, you are my inspiration, you triggered my first paycheck, you have rescued me and restored my hope and together we travel toward our lives being transformed.

I will ride the tyre no matter how many times I fall off.


8 thoughts on “Setting Out To Win – but expecting to fail

  1. This is an amazing post about the power our own thoughts have to shape our reality. We become so convinced of one outcome or another that we no longer look for confirmation either way. Congratulations! Here’s hoping this win pulls the blinders down for seeing future success as well.


    1. I honestly think I read through the list of winners and simply did not recognise my name because I didn’t truly believe it would be there. If that makes sense. It is a real eye opener and lesson for the future! Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Gill – I have yet to reply to your recent posts,which were so moving. You have taken an incredible journey through some of the worst emotions that life can throw at you and have survived not just to return to who you were before the nightmare but to be an even more special, able and inspriring woman. I felt I only had to reach out my hand and I would be able to feel your gentle spirit and calm. And now this latest post. I could try and put into words how pleased I am for you but put simply – tears rolled down my cheeks. Your darling Dennis would be/is so, so very proud of his amazing wife. Wishing you many more days of joy, happiness, inspiration and confidence in all you do. with much love, P.XXXX


    1. What can I say? Thank you doesn’t start to cover it but yes, Den is proud and still with me every step. Thank you so much for stopping by and posting a comment it keeps me going when I lose direction! With much love to you all xxx


  3. And I will do the same Gill..OMG!.Well done you. This comes as no surprise to me because you are a fighter and fighters never give up, they merely have days off, or put another way, off days. Your writing is brilliant and so of course you are going to succeed. Hold this thought and push on. Brilliant xx


  4. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS and well done! Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I have to disagree with you in the strongest possible terms. Winning a competition does not make you a successful author. You already are a successful author, I believe, just by completing the act of putting your ideas down on paper, even if you don’t ever submit them to any publisher, competition or magazine. I suppose it does depend a little on how you define success but in my book you can really celebrate that you have already achieved so much simply by keeping this blog going and by having the discipline to enter such a competition and achieve the recognition that you have… 🙂


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