|with judge Clare Stuckey. photo by Denzo Guiney|
I can hardly believe it! I am so amazed and gratified to announce that at the recent Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Sydney I won the SCBWI Andrea Pinkney Writer award! Apparently I beat some of Australia's best children's authors to win - wow! The award is a personal critique of my work-in-progress, a YA paranormal crime novel, with Vice President of Scholastic USA Andrea Pinkney next month.
What do publishers actually want?
At the presentation dinner, I was so shocked when my name was called I cried my eyes out. I am a published author of children's chapter books, but after 20 years and 7 novels completed I am yet to have a novel published. This award means to me that my work can stand on its own two feet. This was the novel which I had decided to write as I wanted to write, to introduce the character and her dilemma in my natural 'voice', which has taken me 20 years to figure out. The irony is, that after I submitted the synopsis and first page to the competition I lost all confidence and began 'polishing' the first chapter - endlessly, angrily tapping away, deleting, crying, shouting at my PC etc. A writer friend had agreed with me that the new opening was dull. I feel completely lost. Why did I do this to myself, you ask? Because the initial feedback I'd had from publishers when I started submitting it, was that the opening was too much 'telling, not showing,'
Publishers are always saying they want a fresh voice, original ideas, good writing but also sticking to the formula. This is SO confusing. It's like a lost, dead language only the privileged few understand. The rest of us feel like we are on the outside, blinking in the sunlight.
|with one of my beautiful mentors, Susanne Gervay. photo by Denzo Guiney|
So, it was incredibly gratifying to stand at the podium with the judge and accept an award for the original version of chapter one. Ha! I completely forgot to thank everyone who has helped me reach this point. All I could think was, 'Bloody hell, why did I waste all that energy, emotion and stress trying to change it, when it was good enough already?' And afterwards, a couple of people came up to me and said how they appreciated me sharing the frustrations and crisis I'd been through. It's a lonely business, writing, and we have to have an incredibly thick skin to take the constant rejections, year after year. It felt to me that when I accepted this award for my work, the weight of every single rejection I've ever had as a writer flooded over me like a tidal wave. The relief was overwhelming.
So, my advice to you is keep going! Keep believing in yourself. Keep developing as a writer. Never give up your dream.