Musing on Losing by Jane Clarke

I'm lucky enough to have 4 granddaughters, age 6,5,4 and 3. My greatest wish for them is that (most of the time) they will be happy and content whatever life throws at them, and kind and caring to others. But right now there’s something they find especially tricky that also impacts on others. Being a good loser. Recently, there have been some spectacular sulks, tantrums, whinge-ing and blaming of others. 

Which is why I’m currently attempting to write a a picture book text about being a good loser. I’m finding it really hard to write a fun, upbeat non-preachy story, and a lot of scribblings have gone in the bin. I have an idea of what I want to get in it, but I haven't got the characters right, and the characters need to lead the story.  You could say I’m losing!

hungry bin

But I wouldn’t be a published writer if I hadn’t learned to lose. One of the main things that distinguishes published from non-published writers is the ability to get over rejections and persist in producing more texts to be rejected. It took me over 5 years to get published, and, 20 years on, out of 5 texts I manage to complete and send to my agent, only one will eventually get published.

Whilst not wanting to quash any child’s competitive instinct, in life there will inevitably be times when they lose. 

Snakes and ladders - one of our frequent battlegrounds -where someone has to lose.

Board games, sports, exams, driving tests, relationships... getting picture books published… it just isn’t possible to win all the time. A picture book story about losing would help foster resilience. But if I do eventually produce one, I suspect it’ll be hard to get it published, as losing is contrary to the current feeling that children can aspire to - and, by implication, win at - anything if they try.

Okay, so I just whinged about a non-existent text potentially not getting published. Sorry :-) Gosh, it’s hard to be a good loser, isn’t it? If anyone knows a good picture book that deals with this topic, please let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, it’s back to the keyboard, in the hope, if not the expectation, of winning :-)

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