Young Writers Prize 2013

Last year I got really excited about The Young Writers Prize by HotKey Books. It was perfect timing, really. I was writing a book, aimed at middle grade, that I had not finished, but I had enough done to write the synopsis and submit the beginning.

I eagerly awaited the statistics and was pleased to note that my category had far fewer entries than the teen category. In other words, I cared a lot. When I discovered that I didn’t make it through to Round 2, it didn’t bother me as much as I’d thought it might. I was in Europe, having a wonderful time, and I knew that it was okay to fail before you succeed.

Last year I learnt a lot about dreams and what it means to follow them. And the Young Writers Prize was part of that. Now, as soon as I heard that I hadn’t got through, I planned to enter the next year. Ie this year. I wrote a story for NaNo, and have been working on three other stories on and off. But I sort of forgot about the competition what with starting to do art, deciding to quit-my-PhD-and-move-states…. and all those other life things.

When HKB announced the competition I had a minor panic then put off thinking about it. I figured I’d just submit something from one of the stories I’d started and I hadn’t decided which. All of them needed changes made to be appropriate. Then I forgot  until five days before it was due.

So, this year, the story I entered is from NaNoWriMo. I’m enjoying re-reading it. I still don’t know which age category it belongs in. I’m not entirely sure what it is. I don’t have the same lofty ambitions I had last year. I mean, I still have them, because I always do but they’re a little tamer than the excitement of last year.

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rewrites

I finally bit the bullet and decided to go print out my novel at Officeworks. All my editing, up til now, has been on a computer screen. But I only have a few more publishing companies to send it to and I really want it to be the best story it can be, you know. And I heard that printing it out really helps.

Well I don’t know if it’s the time away from the story or the fact that it’s now on paper but I just spent an hour or so slaving over the first two chapters. Rewriting every sentence. It will be better at the end of this process than it was at the start. But will it be good? That’s the question.

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I’ve always had lofty ambitions. But they’re never out of reach.

post NaNoWriMo reflections

Starting out without a plot was probably (certainly) a bad decision.

I’m not convinced I’ll ever do it (NaNoWriMo) again.

It showed me how much time I have available in my day. I don’t want to always spend that time on writing but now, for instance, I know that I really do have time to exercise.

I do not have high hopes for the story but I haven’t brought myself to read it all the way through so we’ll see.

On the (rare) days I knew where my plot was going I could write quite quickly.  So that’s an incentive to plot out my next novel in a lot more detail than I did with the last one.

Working on one project so incessantly gave me a huge ton of ideas and inspiration to work on other projects.

So overall, I’m glad that I did it. It taught me a lot about writing and I now have a book that will, at the very least, entertain a few friends.

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This picture is from Castello Aragonese in Ischia. I have no idea if that was originally meant to be a heart but I liked it.

nanowrimo week 3

This week was infinitely better in terms of getting writing done. I caught up heaps on the weekend and have written the amount that I need to every day since. I’m also enjoying the story more and having a little more faith that it might turn into something good. The only problem now is that I still have another 17,000 words left to go and no more plot to speak of. Admittedly that’s been the case since I started. I didn’t really start with a plot, just some characters, and I’ve been building a plot in bits and pieces the whole time.

I plan to spend this weekend trying to rearrange the novel. For one thing I’ve got a Christmas scene that I think I want to move to Thanksgiving. Also, my brain really prefers to deal with things that are laid out neatly and I’ve written the scenes all out of order. So I’m going to write little summaries of my chapters and do all those organisation things that I actually really enjoy even though I never thought I would. It’s like a puzzle. I like puzzles.

Obviously I’ll keep writing too. I might even go outside. (At the moment I’m writing on my balcony so being outside and getting writing done are not mutually exclusive.)

I took this picture in Germany, right next to the section of the Berlin Wall that was turned into an outdoor art gallery. These guys weren’t trying to hide and I got the impression that it was okay to graffiti this wall as long as you didn’t deface the gallery next to it. Who knows, maybe this wall was even set aside for people to make their own art.

general update goodness

No, I have not reached my 1,667 words for NaNo for today but my average is above what it needs to be so, so far so good.

I find that I’m repeating myself a lot and having trouble allowing myself to work in multiple storylines. It’s trouble enough coming up with ideas for one plot so adding in side stories seems fairly impossible right now. Keeping up with the word count requires effort but not too much and so far, given all the hype, NaNo doesn’t seem as hard as people made it out to be. It’s not interfering with my daily life like I thought it might. But, then again, I’m not even one week through yet so perhaps it’s too early to tell.

I really appreciated today’s pep talk because its central theme was this: “I am a writer. I write books.” And it shocked me to realise that this is now true of me. It wasn’t a year ago. But now I can say this: I have written one book and I am writing another. I am a writer. I write books. And there’s nothing so encouraging as that. It reminds me of the scene in HP3 when Harry realises that he can cast a patronus because he has already done it. I have written one book and I can write another. That realisation washes away all of the “but I haven’t been published so it’s probably rubbish” thinking and reminds me that I have achieved something I can be proud of. There is nothing that can take away the fact that I have written a book. I do not need to wait for approval from any other source. I can say now, with pride, that I am a writer and I write books. And if I never get published and all my books sit on my computer or in the cloud I will still know that I am a writer and I write books.

Here is another art from the outdoor gallery along the remains of the Berlin Wall:

nanowrimo ’12

I have decided to enter NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve never done it before and I am approaching it with a not insignificant amount of trepidation. I’ve got some characters and a vague outline of a plot but I’m having trouble working out some crucial plot details.

Other life things: my brother has returned home, getting wisdom teeth out is actually really painful, and I dip-dyed my hair purple.

Last night we went to Cottesloe beach for dinner and it was beautiful:

promises we can’t keep

I know I promised words but I don’t really have any. It turns out getting back into life after a break is hard. And once you’ve got yourself back into the swing of things the magically fascinating thoughts you wanted to write have become trivial. So news it is then.

– I submitted my story to a real, live publisher. That’s pretty exciting. I hear it’s something you have to do a lot of times if you want to get a book published.

– I’ve been writing the next book. It’s kind of fun but I’m having trouble concentrating on it what with all the other life things going on.

– One of my brothers is visiting at the moment. It’s nice but I’m ill and that seems somewhat unfair. I’m hoping I don’t make him ill and ruin his holiday…

And, here’s some philosophy from the art gallery that was once the Berlin Wall: