It’s Procrastination time!

So it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these – it’s time to introduce you to some of the wonderful places on the internet where you can while away the hours when you really should be doing something else.

I’m studying again this semester and my essay topics are really really boring.  Now I’m sure most students say that but it actually got so bad that I cleaned my oven, which is by far my least favourite job.

One thing which has been a great form of procrastination has been this game, where you have to name the 75 London Tube stations represented in pictures.  That’s right 75 tube stations.  I swear I spent more time staring at the tube map when I was trying to figure this out than I did during the entire time I lived in London.  I warn you now – you will end up cheating.  You will also end up thinking of random tube stations at random moments.

I have wondered several times exactly how I managed my rampant procrastination as well as my obsession du jour, then I remembered – when I was studying the first time around I lived at home and we 15 hours of dial up internet per month.  This was enough to check emails, do some research and spend a bit of time on the Harry Potter forum I was on at the time. Now I have 80GB per month of broadband, a much faster computer and a lot of stuff to look at online.

Mind you I also remember failing an assignment because the book ‘Into the Wilderness’ was far more interesting than comparative readings about Social Studies education, so there are always distractions to be found.

Writing update, update

So there has been progress of sorts since my last post. It turns out a strongly worded email to the organisers  of the award wasn’t needed, as the snippy email I sent on the previous Saturday was enough to get an actual response.  It didn’t answer all my questions and they were a wee bit lectury and it was very much a ‘I’m sorry you’re upset’ type of apology but in amongst all that, they did admit that they dropped the ball in regards to communication with entrants and there was an ‘administrative oversight’ which I guess is there way of saying yes they didn’t communicate the way they should have and we should have been told what the situation was much earlier.

I’m still not happy, it certainly hasn’t restored my faith in the organisation as a whole, which is a shame as I fully support their goals. However as one of their goals is supporting writers I do find it hard to take the rest of their mission statement seriously.

However I’m over it and I’ve moved on – more or less.  I wallowed and generally felt incredibly crap for a week or so and then had to try and decide where to next.  There are a few things to consider: Firstly other people had given me positive feedback, these same given me constructive criticism (like ‘That ending really doesn’t work’)  but people were generally positive.  Secondly there was a prize on offer and no one was good enough to win, which means that my book is obviously not even close to the level they want, if it was nearly there surely they would have given me the award and told me what to change – that happens as part of the editing process anyway.  Thirdly I love writing, more specifically I love writing fiction, even more specifically than that I believe in my characters and my story; I feel that there’s an audience for Amelia and her troubled journey’s through time.  However I also know a lot of people think they’ve written the next great novel or the next big thing and their manuscripts never see the light of day so this really doesn’t make me special.

This all left me even more unsure than before confused that ever, do I get a manuscript assessment or is that throwing good money after bad?  If my book is 75% of the way there then it would make sense but if it’s a steaming pile of poo then there are a host of other things I could spend $400 odd dollars on.  Luckily I remembered that I actually knew a published author.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet I’ve been a member of an online community  since 2004 though it’s now splintered off into factions (it’s a long story) and am friends with many of the members on facebook (despite the fact that many of them I’ve never met). One such person is a published author and she didn’t mind a novice writer agonising ‘how do you know if your book is ready’ and has very kindly offered to read through my manuscript and give me some feedback.

I have entered my manuscript into the Text Prize which I did before I heard about the result of the Storylines award, however there is absolutely no chance of me winning this because if I can’t win in a New Zealand competition where everyone is rubbish, then there’s no chance in an Australian competition where far more people will have entered.

So I’m not giving up yet, Amelia Stirling will live to time travel another day. I figure that I’ll see what my writer friend has to say, see if it’s worth sinking money into a manuscript assessment make the appropriate changes and then hopefully jump on the ‘rejection go round’ that is trying to get published.  I always knew it was more of a marathon than a sprint and everyone faces pretty major rejection before getting anywhere with this industry, I never factored a situation where nobody is good enough to win when I was mentally preparing myself.

A writing update

First off a bit of a disclaimer, I’m going to try and be circumspect in this post, I’m sincerely going to try.  I don’t want this to be a rant but there’s every chance that it may end up that way.  The other party has not responded yet and I’m still putting together exactly what I’m going to say to them.

In this blog I’ve spoken at length about writing and that the first step I was taking to try and get my novel published was entering a competition,the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for unpublished YA novels, and that I was desperately waiting to hear the results.  Well I finally found out on Thursday and not only did I not win but nobody won.  Now, not winning would obviously be disappointing, not making the finalist list doubly so but no winner at all? Well that feels like a slap in the face.  But if there had been some communication around the issue, if they’d explained how they’d come to this non decision I may have felt a bit better about this whole thing.  So here’s the timeline:

30 October 2012:  I printed off 6 copies of my manuscript and with my application forms

31 October 2012: I realise I didn’t include the synopsis and email (via the website – the only contact details) explaining and asking if they can add my synopsis to my application once it arrives.

6 November 2012: I email Storylines to ask if they received my previous email and my application.

6 November 2012: Storylines emails to say they’ve received my application

7 November 2012:  Storylines emails to say they did put my synopsis with  my application, which they also received

5 March 2013:  To try and stop myself going completely out of my mind (because it’s pretty much all I could think about) I emailed and asked if they knew when the finalists were going to be announced, if possibly there was a time line.

11 March 2013: Storylines responded to say that they had no idea when the finalists would be announced but the announcement would be made in March (given the winner was to be announced on 6th April, I’d figured that)

3 April 2013: I gave up being patient and gave up my ‘I don’t want to pester them’ approach and emailed saying that while I assume I had not won, would they be announcing the finalists?

4 April 2013, 5.15pm: I received an email thanking me for my application, telling me I’d been unsuccessful (Funnily enough I’d figured that out) and that would not be an award. It then goes on about their mission to support writers.

4 April 2013, 5.46pm: I emailed asking why no award was being made – was it because of quality or logistics

5 April 2013: In a rear case of actually emailing in a timely manner I received a response saying that they’d decided not make an award

I replied on the 6th (the day of the awards so no response yet) that was much more demanding and snippy.

I’m not pleased, I don’t think that telling contestants less than 48 hours before the award is due to be publicly announced is acceptable.  Had I been communicated with, had I been treated with some respect for the investment – monetary, emotional and in time – that the contestants had made.  Sharing your writing with anyone is difficult,  even sending it off to friends is like(I imagine)  sending your child off to school for the first time – will they like it? will they get it? will it be the smelly kid in the corner that no one wants to sit next to?  So sending it off to a group of professionals is even worse.

I’ve barely been able to concentrate on anything this year, ever time my phone rings I wondered if it was the call I’d been waiting for, I checked the website and my emails, several times a day.  I now feel like the person in American Idol who thinks they’re amazing but is actually tone deaf.

The way see it there a few options as to what happened:

  1. There weren’t enough entries – though they would have known this by early November.
  2. There weren’t any entries of the required standard – now I can believe that there’s a book better than mine and I’ve not won, I can believe there are 5 entries better than mine and I’m not a finalist, I would have been disappointed obviously, but it would have understood.
  3. There weren’t any entries that met the publisher’s publishing style
  4. They were as poorly organised as their communication suggests ad they just never got it organised.

Whatever the reason, I need some answers, I need to know that next year’s contestants won’t receive the same treatment.  Considering that the organisation and award claims to ‘support writers’ I’m feeling far from supported and I’m certainly not feeling like a writer.