I recycle it! If a short story fails in one competition, I try another. If the same piece keeps coming back, I look at it again, see if there are ways I can rewrite and rework it and then try again. I take the same approach with novels and scripts. But I do try to get all work up to as good as I can make them before I even send them out. When I submit work to a competition, if I can get feedback at a reasonable price I do. (Be cautious here, some competitions do charge a lot for this – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a scam but the organizers ought to show they have well published authors running the critiques here and it’s clear you’re paying for their time as you should. Never pay more than you’re happy with. Also sites like Cafe Lit and Shortbread enable you to submit stories and you usually get some feedback and that’s for free! You pay your money and take your choice here). Alfie Dog's brilliant editor will advise on your work and won't put it on site until any issues raised are addressed but this helps improve your story no end.
When did you decide you were a writer, albeit not a published one?
When I realised I was producing short stories “to order” for various competitions on various subjects and generally was not finding this a problem. As I started to be shortlisted, this tended to confirm to my mind I could call myself a writer now being someone who was at the beginnings of a career. Every article I read tended to confirm I was doing the right things (which was encouraging). As I entered more competitions, I found myself getting better at meeting deadlines, something any professional writer needs to do. So I suppose overall it was a combination of doing the right things and not giving up and seeing publication as the ultimate goal but what I was doing on the way to meeting that goal is what any writer needs to do. Also I’ve always taken my writing seriously (it’s always been a wish of mine to try to earn some money from it) so for me when I’m at my desk I am working and not indulging in a hobby.