The Cosmo Miss Write competition is an annual thing where they ask you to
submit 3,000 words of a commercial women's novel, the first prize is
an introduction to an agent and a publisher. Finally the magazine is out in the shops today – though subscribers have
already had their copies land on the doormat – and I'm thrilled because this means I am inching closer to being able to tell people my little piece of news, keeping this almost completely secret* for a fortnight has been more excruciating than my wedding shoes.
Towards the end of August I received an email to say that I’m one of the runners up in the competition – cue palpitations, a complete inability to speak and repeated rereading of the message until it was burned onto my eyeballs. I’d had to fish it out of the trash folder at first because my email has a ludicrously overactive spam filter – but there in amongst all the promises of bigger genitalia, possibly through the use of my new cheap photo software, sat a little piece of treasure. I briefly convinced myself that it was actually a heinous practical joke, that someone had cruelly figured out to how infiltrate Little, Brown’s IT system and was pretending to be an editor breaking the good news…
Then I realised that nobody knew I’d entered the competition. It nearly didn’t happen – at the beginning of the year, as I do most years, I ripped the page out of the magazine and told myself that this year, definitely this year, I’d enter. I’d write a finely crafted 3,000 words, write, edit, write, edit until May and then leave myself time for proof-reading.
Definitely, that would have been the way to go about it.
But as a mature 33 year old (I have ten years on most of the other runners up – break out the glucosamine and send me the Stanna catalogue) I now know that there are some things I don’t naturally shine at. Mainly suffering fools gladly and working without deadlines. That’s why I started writing on the Tuesday and submitted it on the Thursday. I didn’t have time to tell myself it was utter rubbish and let that inner critic win as usual. I did ask someone to proof it, the uber-talented Abi, and she was generous both with her time and with her encouragement.
I’m hugely flattered that the judges thought there was something to it. My prize consists of the following:
- a coaching session with Louise Candlish – which I’m really looking forward to, I think it’s going to be a lunch affair with all the runners up
- £100 to spend on Waterstone’s.com – the dilemma of choosing between fiction, knitting books and the new Nigella…
- a book a week for a year – the mind boggles, could it be Waterstone’s book of the week? Or do I get to wander down to Piccadilly each week (it's near the office, it's no trouble)
- a year’s subscription to Cosmo
Proving that good luck indeed does come in threes, there were two other emails within the next thirty minutes: my invitation to Ravelry and an email from my solicitor to say I’d exchanged successfully on my flat.
Ideas for what to do with the novel – change the heroine's name, rewrite it in the first person, change most of the supporting characters – are all scrapping for space in my head and I have a lot of planning to do. Too many things are overlapping and need to be sieved, drastically, so that the time I do have to write is a bit more organised. That's the intention anyway.
So if you don’t near that much from me in the next while** that’s because I’m photographing and uploading my projects and stash; decorating the flat, finding someone to sort out the kitchen and moving in, and finishing the novel. Oh, and working full time. And FINISHING THE NOVEL.
Wish me lots and lots of lots of luck – I think it will be daunting, but fun… the truth is, I've wanted to write ever since I was a little girl and always thought I'd be just rubbish at it. So instead I went over to the other side of publishing, which I loved but sat there helping authors to achieve their dreams, thinking 'This book is great, I'm thrilled. I want to do this…' This is the most enormous incentive to give it a proper shot – frankly, the most enormous kick in the arse which I really needed – and I'm grabbing the chance with both hands and all my typing fingers…
*because as we all know, a secret is something you tell one person at a time…
** alternatively, you may hear from me on a daily basis, and my bedroom might be pristine – all things you do when you're procrastinating