In 2006 I was on the verge of giving up writing, having knocked on many, many doors of the ‘writing palace’*. My knuckles were sore and I wondered about getting a proper job. However, I entered the first three chapters of what was to become The Generation Game into the novel opening section of the Yeovil Literary Prize. It won. Hurrah. I got an agent. Double hurrah. I finished the novel and was very excited, thinking I’d broken down one of those stubborn palace doors. Alas, it was shut in my face. No one wanted to buy it.
So I started on another. What was to become This Holey Life. I wrote it with the Harry Bowling Prize in mind, which then had to be set in London. It was runner-up. Encouraged, I finished it, but my agent didn’t like it.
So: start another? Or go it alone?
I went it alone. Went back to The Generation Game and rewrote it. Entered the Luke Bitmead Writers Award and won. Hurrah again with a big side plate of relief. (Went a bit Blackadder then, in honour of Sir Tony Robinson.)
Now I have two published novels and, along with Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James, I want to give other novelists a chance of battering down a door, whether a writer who has been unable to renew a contract or a writer trying to get that first publishing deal. Winning a prize is a huge affirmation of your writing, a sign that you are travelling along the right road – your road which will lead to a destination where your unique voice can be heard and appreciated.
If you have a novel in mind, consider entering the first 10,000 words into the Exeter Novel Prize, closing date 31st October. What have you got to lose?
For further details please visit http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk
(*palace of literature – a phrase I first heard last night at the launch of the ENP, spoken by the wonderful Margaret James.)
Photo taken by Laura James