Louise Couper
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An endless Litany of Mistakes
I was very surprised by Helen Mirren.  ‘There’s been an endless litany of mistakes and mis-steps,’ she said.  
Firstly, because she has had and continues to have, as an ‘older’ woman,  a very successful career and appears not to have put a foot wrong.
And secondly, because she admitted to having allowed opportunities to pass her by.  It is good to hear someone so successful being honest about failure.  It lets us see that failure and success co-exist.  As she says: ‘It’s just really a question of carrying on.’
So it is with writing.  A friend has had her manuscript returned with a not very nice rejection letter.  She is told that her novel ‘Doesn’t set me on fire.’  Pity.  For the friend, of course.  Although she is not yet ready to hear it, my advice will be to dust herself off and send it to the next agent. There are hundreds of them.
What is success and failure in writing?   Success is having the discipline to write every day; to finishing the work; to then editing it until you have a good story you still enjoy reading.  Further success could look like a publishing contract or creating an e-book; followed by bestsellerdom, money rolling into the bank account, a film deal.  But that is mostly down to ‘luck’.   And, I expect, Helen Mirren would agree that she has had a lot of that, despite her ‘litany of mistakes’.
As Gary Player (or was it Arnold Palmer)  said: the more I practice, the luckier I get.  I will encourage my friend to see that there’s always another bestseller and maybe the next one is hers.