Well, this week sees the announcement of the results for the BBC End of Story Competition. For those who don’t know too much about this, a number of bestselling authors contributed incomplete stories for would-be writers to finish. A book of these incomplete stories was distributed throughout bookshops in the UK.

Writers completed the stories and submitted their half-masterpieces to the BBC. You can see a bios of the winners of the Shaun Hutson story (the one I completed).

This whole business brings back the frustration of competitions. You send off your entry – usually accompanied by a fee, though not in the case of ‘End of Story’ – and hope against hope that something will come of it. Nothing ever does, of course, even when (in the case of some writing friends of mine) an entry is very good, arguably better than the winner. This whole lottery aspect of writing is one of its biggest frustrations. The way to deal with it is to keep playing the game. How do you beat long odds? By repetition and bloody-mindedness.

It hasn’t escaped the author that this how the mind of a Lotto player works.

This week I’ve submitted a story called ‘A is for Apple’ to Interzone, a keystone in the arch of British science fiction. I’ve also submitted a radio script to the BBC. We’ll see how it goes. No doubt the same way as my ‘End of Story’ submission, but if I were a pessimist I wouldn’t be a writer.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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