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The Losing Game: The Numbers

January 1, 2018

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The Losing Game: Writing Rejection 15/100

July 8, 2018

Hello again friends, strangers, and bitter rivals! A very exciting thing happened in my city today, a thing unrelated to the world of writing, (though of course, anything can be related to the world of writing since writing is born of experiences,) a thing so great it gave me the energy to write about a rejection I've been putting off writing about. I just haven't known what to say about it, but now, due to this momentous thing that happened, I have been revitalized and can write about anything. Canned corn? You got it. That time the Dutch rioted and ate their Prime Minister? Definitely! Parasitic wasps? No doubt! What was this great event that powered me up? Today in my city, on the beach, scores of Corgis gathered for an epic bout of Corgi racing.
 

 
It was exceptional. They were so quick on their little legs. This is a free event that apparently happens in several cities, so if you're a broke ass writer/painter/singer/human looking for a way to spend a weekend, this is it. You will not regret it. You will afterwards be able to take on any creative projects that evaded you. This is a guarantee.*

Sometimes my city bums me out. It's a beautiful place, but it's challenging to live here. At last count, our city was ranked the second most expensive city in the world (behind Hong Kong) and as of March, the new, "affordable" housing they're creating that people need to apply for is over $1900 a month for a 1 bedroom. I haven't had fewer than 3 jobs since I was 19 years old, though my situation has somewhat stabilized recently. It can be hard and frustrating to explain my life to friends who live in other parts of the country who can't relate or who think they can only to be blown away by the numbers of it all.

Needless to say, my ambivalence about this city feeds my writing. Like I mentioned earlier, any experience can, and living here definitely does. It can be an incredible struggle to get by here, but it's stunning. It's the warmest part of the country. There are a lot of great places to eat. It's a city filled with people I love and admire. It sometimes hosts Corgi races.

So when I went to submit to this year's CBC Fiction Prize, I submitted some work that represents my Canadian experience: a piece from the perspective of a landlord in my city. It didn't win, but not because of the content. I worry that when it comes to CBC prizes, I feel too compelled to submit things with a Canadian feel, since CBC is ostensibly synonymous with CanCon. (Not to be confused with Cancun.)
 

But this is the thing: not only does CBC not necessarily need overt Canadiana, the city and my life in it is not the typical Canadian experience. This is why it always pretends to be the United States in the movies. Fun fact: Rumble in the Bronx was shot here, and not, as the title suggests, the Bronx.
 


So while I endorse writing what you know, I also endorse remembering that your experiences aren't going to translate to everything. I live in Canada, but my life doesn't translate to Canadiana, which for some reason, always seems to revolve around the prairies. (This is not why this piece wasn't longlisted, incidentally. The pieces I read on the shortlist were fantastic, and I highly recommend reading the winning piece, Lipstick Day.)

Anyway, here's the rejection for the piece:

Hello Erin,

You are receiving this message because you entered the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize. We unveiled the 2018 longlist this morning and you can view the list of 27 authors who are still in the running here: http://www.cbc.ca/books/literaryprizes/27-writers-make-2018-cbc-short-story-prize-longlist-1.4602629

The shortlist will be announced on April 10 and the winner will be revealed on April 17.

If your name isn’t on the list this year, we hope that you will try again. Keep in mind that our readers and jurors change for each competition so feel free to submit the same work or a new piece.

Please sign up for one of our newsletters. They are available for each competition to offer inspiration and support. You can also visit CBC Books for tips to help you on your writing journey. Interested in entering another category of our literary prizes? The CBC Poetry Prize is now open. The deadline to submit your original, unpublished poetry is May 31, 2018.

We look forward to reading more of your work and encourage you to keep writing.

Best regards,
The CBC Literary Prizes team

As you'd probably expect from CBC, this rejection letter is well-crafted. It directs you to their site, it engages you with the longlist, and it's very nice about if your work doesn't make the cut. It offers helpful solutions. New goal: write piece about city as cohesive and effective as this rejection. I'm getting right on it. But first, I'm going to review photos from today's Corgi race.
 

 

Until next time,

- E.B. Kirsh

 

* I can't actually guarantee this, but if you don't have an awesome time at a Corgi racing event that is as fun for the Corgis as this one was, we probably shouldn't hang out.

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