All writers, unless they’re very fortunate, know how difficult it is to get noticed, to become ‘discovered’. I became an ‘overnight success’ (I clapped when I read the review that said it) after almost twenty years: stories in obscure little magazines; a couple of story collections published by a tiny northeastern press; a novel rejected by every single UK publisher; a couple of dozen readers who loved my work; a part of me that said it all would work out well; and another part that simply didn’t give a damn. I wrote because I loved to write, and I’d keep on writing no matter how much recognition I received. Read it allLast night, winners of last year's ground-breaking Undiscovered Voices competition rubbed shoulders with hopefuls for the next one, which will be published in 2010. The deadline for entries is June 1 2009. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2009.
The previous competition has been a big learning curve, say organisers Sara O Connor and Sara Grant, as a result of which the rules have changed. The biggest change is that agented authors cannot enter while non-fiction authors can. Read the submission rules here.
Apart from Lindsay Heaven, commissioning editor of Puffin, 2010's panel of judges are brand spanking new. The judges are:
JULIA CHURCHILL, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
LINDSEY HEAVEN, Puffin Books
SARAH MANSON, Literary Agent
JO UNWIN, Conville and Walsh
EMMA YOUNG, Macmillan Children’s Books
ZOE DUNCAN, Scholastic Children’s Books
Left to right,Sarah Manson, Zoe Duncan, Jo Unwin, Emma Young, and Julia Churchill
Several people have asked me if my writing life has been happily ever after since I made it into the first anthology.
The answer is: winning the anthology was like getting fast-tracked to the next level. You bypass the slushpile. Which is fabulous. Yes, it has changed my life and yes, the future is bright.
The thing is, you get up to the next level and you realise that you have entered another battle. And you wonder when you will ever win the war?
I am writing my fourth novel now and I still don't know which one will be my first published novel. At last night's event, people were still congratulating me for that glorious moment two years (!) ago now. A moment that now seems all too fleeting.
I take heart from David Almond's words:
And through it all, through all the doubts and humiliations, we have to open up a little space inside ourselves in which a little fragment of ourselves can sit still and whisper, ‘It’s OK.’