Friday, November 11, 2011

The competition of the Last Chance

"The First shall be last and the Last shall be first."
Well I don't know about that one, but last week I have officially entered the Novel Fair Competition for First time novelists and I know for sure this is the last time for me.
 To save a stamp I decided I should physically drop myself the envelope through the letter box of the Irish Writers' Center. I was in the neighboorhood as well.
I went around 9.00 p.m, after visiting a friend and as I walked toward Parnell Square, I kept wanting to turn around and run straight home.
Another thought kept going around in circle in my mind. It said:
"You're flushing 35 euro good euro down the toilets!"
That is the fee to participate to the competition and by my standards, it's a steep fee. I could make a better use of this money. For 35 euro, I could get 3 brand new hard cover books,or 10 e-books, or 7 pints of Guiness if I was into Guiness, or 10 varieties of cheese which I am into.  Instead I am paying for this competition and what for?
My chances are SO darn slim!
I had visited the Irish Writers' Center earlier on that day and discovered that so far, 170 authors had submitted their first-time novels.
They will select 20 authors. So I have one chance in 10 to get in.

Only I don't know how much the judges are into "YA Fantasy" as they might see the genre too commercial or shallow.
See my dilemna?
And if I did get selected, it wouldn't secure me a way to get published but I will get a chance to meet with agents and publishers face to face and won't have to wait for ever for an eventual answer which let's be honest, might be negative. 
So as I walked in the cold November night in the deserted street of Parnell street and the air is crisp, I am thinking: "Go back, you fool! Go back! You're a dreamer and your story is average. How is it better than the rest?"
Indeed, I can't even think straight anymore. Doubt is making me judgmental and pessimistic. But in fairness, I know there are so many YA Fantasy Novelists right now, the little talent I have might be shaded by the choice  out there. Like a young tree trying to find light among a sea of trees.
But I keep on walking because there's another voice who's saying: "You owe it to yourself. You spent far too much time working on it and this is the first time the Irish Writers' Center is organising this type of event. The first Novel fair ever and this is happening right here in Ireland, right here in Dublin, the city you live in, so you might as well give this book its last chance. And then after that, well... after that, you're done!"
Yes, after that, I'm done. This is OFFICIALLY my last chance. I won't apply to any agents, any online publishing companies or any publishers.
If that doesn't work, I will publish it as an e-book and that's the end of it.
I have sent this to too many agents and I am sick of it. I'm still waiting for some of them to reply to me. But in January, it'll be six months waiting and I'll also get the answer from the Novel Fair so i'll know then if my last chance has passed.
So this is what's going on in my head. I reach the stairs to the Irish Writers' Center and I am hoping for a sign whether I should do it or not, but of course there's no sign and we only look for signs when we are in doubt. So I find the letter box, square and fixed to the wall.
"It is a dirty grim letter box." I think to myself.
I sigh heavily and slip the envelop in. Only it does't get in.
The letter box is designed is such way that the letters can't slip straight but down. So as I push the envelop down, ( the sight of me pushing the envelop in the middle of a street on a saturday night must look very suspicious to outsiders. Maybe this is a sign!)
Eventually, I turn around and look at the sky. The sky is perfectly clear, without any cloud and strangely enough, the moon is vertically aligned with the North Star. (I know this isn't a sign but I still find it rare and nice) so I consider the sky and I consider taking back the envelop. But in the end, I square my shoulders and walk away.
And again with every step that distances me from the letter box, there's a part of me who wants to run back and pull savagely the envelope off the letter box and run home with it.
But I don't.
It's hard though.
I wonder if the volunteers from the Writers Center will ever open the letter box. Maybe they use another one which I couldn't see. Maybe it will lay abandonned for many years and in a hundred year time, someone will notice the old decrepit manuscript.
No matter.
Today is the deadline of the competition
Soon enough I'll find out whether the 35€ were deducted and whether I got rejected or not.

Image borrowed from the cover of Fiona Maazel's book " Last Last chance"
(which I haven't read but is looking good)

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you made the right decision dropping it in the letterbox, whatever happens. But I don't know if its a good idea to say definitively that this is your very last chance.

    If it was me I would leave the door open, even just a little, if the novel fair or other publishers you've applied to don't accept it - put it aside for 6 months or a year and then maybe you'll be able to look at it again more objectively, or maybe give it out to friends who are willing to read it and give their honest opinion.

    Having read two-thirds or so of your novel to date (very slowly, wearing my amateur editor's hat!)I know there is a diamond in there. It just needs to be cut and polished in a way that will catch the eye of an agent. Its full of real feelng and passion, not just something written to appeal to current fads.