Egg on face: I’m making a career of it.

October 20, 2010 at 5:29 am (Uncategorized)

This morning, I dropped porridge down my front, because a spoonful’s safe passage from the bowl to my mouth is clearly beyond me right now. Later in the morning, I somehow lost my balance – while sitting down, mind you – and abruptly flung my cup of coffee all over my chair, my cushion, my computer and, naturally, myself. When leaving for my walk, I next tried retrieving my 1 kg weights through a gap that was too narrow, thus tipping the fruit bowl clear off its stand. I dropped the weights in order to save the bowl from certain destruction, and they promptly rolled off the butcher’s block, loudly knocking out some of the contents of the shelves below as they plummeted past. Now I’ve just eaten my lunch. As I took my first bite, hot melted cheese spurted down my second outfit of the day, looking for all the world like a pale loose turd, while mayo squirted sideways onto the remaining cushion as if to say, ‘And now take that.’ When I took the lid off my drink just now, almost braced for the next assault, it too seized its opportunity and sprayed a fine effervescent arc right across my front. What, one wonders, does tonight’s dinner hold?

There’s nothing slapstick, meanwhile, about trying to get my application in shape for the ASA Mentorship Program. I’ve entered before and been unsuccessful, and as this is the last program of any description I’ll be entering before Baby J’s public debut, I’d like to do a decent job and give myself the best chance, but don’t really have any sense that I’m doing either when I look at my support material so far. For a start, I have to include a sample from the MS, and I don’t even know whether to send it in first person or third. Time is running out, though, so even though the decision doesn’t have to be made for all time, it does have to be made by the ASA’s deadline. The whole thing makes me feel totally addled, frankly, but even as a complete and utter outside chance, it’s still too good an opportunity to pass up. I have to take that chance and apply.

It’s been a relief, not entering things, and just how great a relief becomes explicit when I think about the one outstanding competition result and how it makes me feel, just instinctively tensing day after day after day while I wait for the rejection to land like a big scavenging vulture swooping atop my flimsy Tower of Silence. Parsee dead are beyond caring by the time they’re lying there waiting to be picked off by the birds, but I’m still just conscious enough to know what’s coming for me. And they’ve had this story five months. It’s the same story that got precisely nowhere the last time I entered it in something, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s still the only short story I’ve written that I don’t think of as an unmitigated disaster. Anyway, in it went, and I signed the entry form and agreed to the terms and conditions, and there it has stayed for the past five months.

In honouring the terms and conditions, I’m not allowed to send out this story to anyone else. So while five months go by and I wait for what will almost certainly be a list of winning and commended entries from which my own name is conspicuously absent, the story isn’t even able to be considered elsewhere. It’s a bit rough, don’t you think? Personally I think that kind of timeframe is a little unreasonable – it seems, well, unfair to hold hundreds of hopefuls to ransom like this for such an extended period. Most of us won’t get anywhere in this competition, but at five months and counting, nor are we free to try our luck elsewhere. It’s a very long time to await a decision – the Josephine Ulrick, the biggest short story prize in Australia (that Darkling Jewelene won this year, thank you very much!), doesn’t take nearly so long to cut the rejects loose – they’re admirably efficient about it! I can’t remember how long it took, exactly, but I think it was about three months. A blink comparatively – certainly within what’s regarded (crazily) as a standard turnaround in these matters. But five months…? What’s taking so long??

It’ll be nice when it’s no longer hanging over me – my rejection in waiting. Who needs it? Not me.

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8 Comments

  1. piereth said,

    Ref food vaudeville, I’m with you. There is no outfit of mine shaded anything less that stygian that doesn’t have spurts and dribbles of my ingestions on it. I can’t seem to eat anything at all without wearing it simultaneously. You’d think I would have learned grace in this having been eating (by myself too!) for well over three decades. But no.

    Does it make you feel specially cursed when chain reactions such as that described above happen to you? I just get a flash of me on a deserted beach, ragged clothes (specially those tattered three-quarter pants favoured by castaways everywhere) beard down to my knees, ON my knees and fists raised, wailing, ‘Why god? WHY??!?!’ Melodrama, yada yada. But it can feel like you’re being singled out.

    Five months is waaay too long. I am admiring, currently, David Rochester’s ‘I don’t CARE’ attitude to publishing and so forth. It seems to be working for him – I’m going to give it a go too. Join me?

    ps how’s the bumpage? If you are happy to I’d like to send you a little something, made in my own home-town for bump-dwellers when they emerge… xxxx

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, Piereth, how I envy David his profound sanguinity… I’ve learnt to largely switch off the care factor – it’s been necessary for survival – but he exposes me as a stumbling novice.

      It’s hard to feel cursed when these splats and squirts are all self-inflicted, don’t you think?! And actually, yesterday a bird took a gigantic streaking shit onto the coastal path about 5 metres ahead of me, so that kind of made me feel like I was coming in slightly ahead!!!

      Piereth, that is so, so sweet. SO NICE OF YOU, thank you. Bumpage is making a keen habit of going bump in the night… and is giving me raging heartburn. And sending me into daily semi-comas. But the kicks make it all worthwhile.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    Di, I am keeping fingers crossed for you. I agree 5 mo is completely unfair. You have courage and persistence and those have carried you far and will carry you still further.

    • doctordi said,

      Lilian, my dear, thank you, but you are hereby instructed to please cross your fingers for a more worthwhile cause than this – it’s just not deserving of your attention. I’ve really checked out of Competition Land (there goes both the courage and the persistence!), and the only reason this is even current is that they’ve taken so bloody long to judge the damn thing.

      Now I’ve had all these months of not entering anything, I can confirm I just really, really don’t like the fact that once I’ve submitted, it’s always there in some small psychological recess, lurking with malevolent intent.

  3. litlove said,

    Here’s something that may entertain you – an article in which 40 years’ of Booker judges dish the dirt on what it’s like to pick the year’s ‘best’ book.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/06/bookerprize.40years

    What comes across time and again is how subjective and arbitrary everything is, from the shortlist to the winner. So competitions are not good yardsticks of talent and I agree they are best avoided.

    • doctordi said,

      Oh yes, I’ve read this! LOVED it – how fascinating is it?! In fact, I was thinking about it only the other day, when a couple of pundits in Australia were expressing their very lukewarm response to The Finkler Question being named this year’s winner. They were convinced it was one of those ‘compromise’ choices, and certainly the article makes it clear such negotiations are commonplace when judging the Booker. Everyone’s second choice instead of anyone’s first… it’s hard to know how to feel about that as a judging strategy!!!

      Yeah, it’s been wonderfully liberating avoiding them, I’m only sorry this one is still out there…

  4. davidrochester said,

    I probably shouldn’t point out that the food mishaps are Nature’s way of training you for a small humanoid who will be spewing nourishment in various stages of digestion all over you for the next 3-5 years.

    • doctordi said,

      Good god, man, you’re absolutely right… maybe I should start wearing gigantic bibs now.

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