The news came shortly after ten yesterday from QWC – ‘Peeling Layers’ hasn’t been shortlisted for the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development program. There were over 260 applications Australia-wide.
Sure, I was a bit disappointed. Even though I’ve told myself to be realistic, there was a dreamy part of me wishing that I would get in and reap all the benefits from this amazing opportunity. But this was my first go at entering any type of writing competition, and it’s a learning curve I wholeheartedly embrace.
I learnt… quite a hell of a lot, actually. ‘Peeling Layers’ originally was over 400 pages, and condensing that into one-page synopsis was a task more daunting than if someone had handed me a pen and asked me to write down another 400 pages… All the literatures out there supported the notion of “ask a writer to write hundreds of pages for a novel and s/he would gladly do it; ask that same writer to write a one, two, or five pages of synopsis of that novel, and s/he would run for the hills”. Not that there are any hills visible near where I live, there had been countless times I felt like this process was all too hard; that I wanted to give up.I even had to have a pep talk with myself to persevere.
I won’t say I’ve mastered the art of editing, but it’s a skill every writer must have, and just like any other skill, the more you’re subjected to it, the more you do it, the better you are at it. It’s a skill to be able to read your own writing in an objective, non-biased lens; to distance yourself from the heart and the emotion of the story and pick it apart sentence by sentence; to cut off side stories that don’t contribute to the main plot. It takes a lot out of you, both emotionally and physically, especially when you’re also juggling a full-time job. I had meltdowns, for sure; again, there were days I was ready to throw the whole manuscript in the bin and did this when I have either: a) win enough lotto to retire and do this full time, or b) enough annual leave to take a full one or two weeks off work and pour all my concentration into this day in and day out. But I think, all in all, I managed to balance this pretty well.
Now, I certainly don’t want to turn this into an Academy Awards speech (since I haven’t won anything ), but I do owe a lot of my sanity to my darling husband. I think without his support, motivation, and most of all understanding, I certainly would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.
What is it they say? If at first you don’t succeed, try again. This is definitely the first competition I’ve entered; it won’t be my last!