I am not sure what I feel about this. On the one hand, Alan, I don’t think you should term not getting long listed in four novel competitions a failure. (Actually I am impressed you managed to find four to enter – I never can find any that seem suitable.) We just don’t know enough about what the judges are looking for. And trying to second guess them is counterproductive. And when you think about some things that get successfully published, and clearly I’m not going to mention any names here but we all know the kind of thing I’m meaning, success doesn’t have to equate to quality writing at ALL. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to send off your work and receive a deafening nothing in return. So I try to divorce the writing from the publishing, and think only in terms of the former. It’d be cool to have something out there, being read, of course, but the main thing, for me, is that it exists, rather than it’s read. Or published. Or “successful”.