I’ve been accepted onto the Seed course at Olvar Wood next month. I’m a bit frantic – the gap between being notified (yesterday) and the course (13th September) is very short, and I have a horrible feeling that I might not be able to get locum cover in time. It was probably foolish to send my portfolio in, but I’ve been writing in a vacuum for over two years now, and I need some sort of face-to-face interaction with other writers or I’m going to go nuts. So, I’m watching the tickets for flights to Melbourne slowly vanishing (I’m already in for a 5am drive to Launceston, because there are no seats left from my local airport) and wondering if I will have to get the boat instead. Oh, the delights of living on a small island!
This was only the third time I’ve submitted a portfolio; the first time was for the Arvon advanced fiction course which had me turning cartwheels when I got in. It was a terrifying and exhilarating week; the standard was unbelievably high.
The second portfolio was for my Master’s in creative writing; ’nuff said.
And thinking about that has reminded me about my woefully thin submissions record. In my defence, I’m crap at writing short stories, which is a bit of a handicap, but this is a complete list of all competition entries and slush submissions:
- The Pity of War – a competition – First prize
- Greek Experience – Another competition judged by Louis de Bernieres; the first prize was a week’s writing course in Greece. I came second. There was no second prize.
- MsLexia – theme: Angels – published story
- MsLexia – theme: Fire – apologetic letter about six months later telling me they’d intended to publish my story but lost it and gone to press without it. They’d just found it in a pile of manuscripts and wanted to let me know.
- XXX – Novel – rejected by every agent/publisher in the UK, but some nice letters summarised as ‘when you write something more commercial, send it in’.
- Winchester Writer’s Conference – children’s short story – unplaced
- Writer’s News – short story – runner up
- Writers’ News writing course (suppose I’d better admit to this) – abandoned due to a difference of my opinion with my tutor over whether all short stories should have a twist ending. I said not. He diagreed with me, and reminded me that he was the teacher. His obsession with aspects of punctuation which were a matter of opinion rather than correct grammar drove me crackers as well.
Oh, hell – it’s not a lot to show for over 15 years of writing, is it? It’s almost as bad as coming across those competitions and awards for ‘young’ writers, for which I am sadly no longer eligible. I’m sitting in that watershed zone – it’s a few years yet before I’ll be eligible for any ‘mature’ writer awards (I assume these reflect your age, not the maturity of your writing. If the latter, I’ll never be eligible).
So…resolution is to finish the current novel and send it across by the end of September to the good Mr Jarrold for editing. Then, if he thinks it can be turned into something remotely publishable, get it into shape and off to the agents by the end of the year.
…better get writing…