To submit or not submit? That is the question I asked myself thirty times.
I am a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. It is a fantastic organisation which offers friendship, advice, the chance to meet other writers, agents and publishers and once a year, have one’s manuscript critiqued. The deadline for the critique is August 31st. Well done to everyone who submitted.
At the beginning of this year I had a plan; By July I was going to have a second story written and submitted to the NWS. It started well as I joined in with a challenge set by author Sally Quilford entitled 100k in a 100 Days. The aim was to write 1000 words each day for 100 days, starting on January 1st and ending on April 9th.
By March, I had 60,000 words written, most of which belonged to the work in progress (WIP). My writing came to an abrupt halt late March, when I lost my mum. Everything that followed knocked writing off the agenda.
I could not get back into the work in progress. The last scene I’d written concentrated on the hero’s grief having lost his family. It was not a place I wished to visit. With that in mind, I decided not to submit to the NWS. I emailed the organiser explaining my situation and received a lovely reply which left the door open for me to send in a partial (a non-completed story) and a synopsis if I felt able.
As time progressed and life settled into a new groove, I turned to writing short stories. They were perfect for fulfilling the desire to write without draining my emotional reserves. With aspects of my life hanging in the balance, I derived satisfaction from starting and completing a project within a short time span, and it appeased the guilt of not tackling the WIP knowing I was keeping my hand in.
There’s the telling word – appeased.
In hindsight I think those who know me well realised I was struggling with the idea of not submitting. I had 60,000 words saved in Drive C. I had neglected them. My poor, desperate hero, like me, had to start dealing with his grief. I could not leave him in his state of disbelief.
I began to think about the story once more. I mentioned one or two ideas to my wonderful Romaniac chums, who as ever, were supportive, funny and pillars of rock and again the suggestion was made that I should consider sending in a partial. I then received the same advice from two established members of the RNA.
Have you ever had that feeling someone is trying to tell you something?
At the beginning of July, struck by a bolt of insanity, I declared to my family and friends I would be submitting to the NWS and I would work for as long and as hard as I could to finish and polish the manuscript. I had six weeks, after all.
This Tuesday I didn’t go to bed. I stayed up reading through a revised and rewritten 52,000 words, replacing over-used phrases, correcting chronology mistakes and fixing typos and cut and paste errors.
I went to bed at 07:00, Wednesday, rose at 09:00, and at 11:00, handed the NEW padded envelope, fattened with my partial, to the post office assistant.
It was the first time I’d been out of the house in days.
Okay. So I didn’t manage to write the whole story, but I reached a point about a week before when I knew it was not going to happen. Perhaps I should have written the entire book before editing, but I wanted to submit more than a first draft. I appreciate it is not a final version, but I have presented my work to the best of my ability.
What have I learned? Support, advice and encouragement from family, friends and writing chums are invaluable assets when faced with the impossible, and I thank you for providing all three in lorry loads.
Scrap that. Make it juggernaut loads.
No. Container loads.
And what of my hero? He is out of his disbelief phase and he’s through with the guilt, but he is sinking lower than the Titanic. I wonder if like the sun, he will rise and see the dawning of happier times?