Well, my dears, a high in among recent lows: I got email confirmation this morning that MS #2 was shortlisted in the inaugural Varuna Publisher Fellowships. And a big congratulations to Darkling Jenny, whose latest MS also made the shortlist – nice one, Changeling! Unfortunately only the bastard winners are listed on Varuna’s website (and no doubt they’re all really very nice people), but you can read about the program here. From memory, I submitted 20 pages for consideration; the MS itself is very much an incomplete first draft, currently travelling at about 30,000 words. I guess it does make me feel more optimistic about its chances of one day being a fully realised story. It certainly beats being bitten on the bum.
The current situation is one of sheer neglect: I haven’t touched it in months. All my effort has been focused around redrafting MS #1, although frankly it too has been utterly ignored since my return from the Cottage Pt writing retreat with the Darklings back in mid-September. The rash of freelance work was really well timed, as was the holiday, and it was only yesterday that I turned to Llew and made some noises about starting work on the fiction again. I think I needed the break.
There were a staggering 500 entries in the Varuna Publisher Fellowships. Talk about a tough field! It’s disappointing that #2 didn’t get over the line – boy, that would have been a sweet little pick-me-up – but the shortlist placing is encouraging nonetheless. And I’m genuinely looking forward to getting back to those characters. I think it’s into their world I’m headed, rather than back into MS #1. Right now I’m not sure what else I’ve got to bring to that particular story, so I think that means it’s time to step away. Most of you (and Llew, and the Darklings) feel putting #1 online would be a mistake (thank you for your dissenting opinion, David, I think you really understand where I’m at), so I’m going to listen to your collective wisdom, thank you, and revisit this down the track if and when I conclude it’s lying dead in a ditch from a publication point of view.
In other news, I’ve been feeling a little cramped and crowded in my office recently, so as part of a spring clean (by which I mean trying to reduce the piles of paper in here), I thought I’d try culling some books – something I’ve never, ever attempted before. I was curious to see how I’d fare, so I went through every single one of the hundreds of titles on my shelves, and you’ll be pleased to know I felt able to jettison a full fourteen titles from my collection. Fourteen! Llew peered into the box and said dismissively, “Hmmm, looks like someone got distracted before she really got going…”
No, no, I assured him, I was done. I was even feeling quite proud of myself.
“Why bother?” he said. “You may as well keep these too.”
But I felt lighter and more orderly for the tough decisions I’d made. I felt the significance of shedding those 14 titles in a way Llew would have trouble imagining. It was quite a big deal. A hard ask. And now they’re sitting in a box. Right here by my desk. In my office. Exactly where they belong.