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.