Friday, 3 June 2011


That feels great ... I've just joined SCBWI; Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I also joined the facebook page and was welcomed by quite a few authors / illustrators within minutes which made me feel really welcome. [Thank you]

Now, I know I said I was going to finish my novel, Touchstone, Consequences or whatever the working title is at the moment, but a more urgent job requires my ultimate attention for a few weeks. Having a publisher vaguely speaking to me about one of my children's stories, forced me to alter direction temporarily. Whilst I was about this, I came across SCBWI and got drawn into the colourful and interesting website, viewed illustrators images, checked out authors... I joined the society and decided to enter the children's novel writing competition with my offering for 8 - 11year olds ~ An Arthur Ransom meets Jacqueline Wilson collection for the Millennium child ~ riverside adventure meets pre-teen gang conflict, extended family issues with a bit of eco-awareness and smattering of local politics thrown in.

So, the chapter was ready to post [Chapter 1]. My synopsis was professionally saved in a file named 'Synopsis' [surprise]. My biog was also up and running. I entered my details into SCBWI online application form and paid for my membership.

THEN, I realised the last date for the competition was the very next day. NO email submissions; the rules clearly stated that. Hmmm ... all this preparation. For nothing? I wouldn't give in. I wasn't about to miss the deadline.

...So, it's 11.55pm. The night before the closing date of the competition. I am supposed to be travelling to London the following morning. I'm tired. Very tired. I'm falling asleep on my laptop. I realise my synopsis is slightly too long and boring; my biog doesn't suit the specific requirements and is also too long. I have no large envelopes ... and worse, my chapter has 446 words too many. I try to edit Chapter 1 and manage to get further than expected. In between nano-dozes, I transform the chapter into a neat 3995 words in a riduculously short amount of time. I start on the biog and wonder why. If the closing date is the next day, how am I going to get the chapter to Stanley House? Same Day Delivery? Maybe. Send my son down in a diesel fuelled vehicle? - a bit extreme. I decide to email SCBWI and ask if I could hand deliver my submission. It is now around 12.35am. I delete half of my biog. Still too long. My head jerks in that space between wakefulness and sleepfulness. The papers on my desk begin to swirl in some sort of Harry Potter snow storm. The dog barks me awake. Time for bed. I have given in.

Have I given in? Of course not. I decide to sleep as deeply as possible [see for restless sleep] ~ that is, after I have worked out a way to deliver my submission. I plan to rise early and attend to all the outstanding structure, editing, applicaiton form, purchasing of envelope and sticking of stamps. Sticking of stamps? Where did I get that idea from? Wouldn't I be waiting for confirmation to allow me to hand deliver this infamous package?

Car to Station. Train to Euston. Tube to ... I had no address. My laptop had crashed. I hadn't been able to print my application form. I hadn't been able to print my membership payment receipt confirmation. I now had to email my son to print all that I needed - which involved getting one of my sons out of bed before 9am. [Hmmm - that was going to cost]. And then I remembered ... falling asleep the previous evening ... that Chapter 2 might be a better option; more interesting, dramatic, exciting ... Chapter 2 was also made up of approximately 4479 words. So I set to work, reducing the chapter to 3994 words and my patience to zero. I checked the font type and size, collected all the necessary documents together, pasted sticky labels over an old envelope, previously addressed to me and fled for the train.

On Tuesday, hot, sticky and a tad panicky, I posted my envelope through a large letter box, somewhere in the vicinity of Kings Cross Station and hoped someone would notice it propped awkwardly against the glass wall and put it with all the other submissions [so it wouldn't be lonely of course].

If nothing else, the thing I learned from this operation was something about editing ... Be Ruthless At All Times. I felt the pace of the two chapters was quicker, smoother and cleaner, once all the unnecessary stuff had been removed.


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