The Dog Ate my Homework

December 2, 2014

I am very aware I haven't written anything here for ages and ages. I have a good excuse. I have been writing and for the first time ever managed to finish the first draft of a long creative project: a memoir. I have started five novels and given up along the way for all sorts of different reasons (mainly fear that I was writing rubbish...).


I decided I needed a deadline so I sent off the first 5000 words (at that point I had only written about 15,000 words) to the Mslexia Memoir Competition. This was in September. If I was long-listed, I would be told at the end of October and be expected to send in the complete manuscript immediately.


So I have been writing. And by the end of October I finished the first draft and a few days later got an email telling me I had been long-listed. It was one of the best moments ever. I had a few days to turn it from a first draft into a polished manuscript. This was, of course, impossible. I sent off what I had done knowing rationally that it wouldn't get any further because, as I tell all my students, drafting and re-drafting is all.


I was right. I was not short-listed. I was upset and disappointed despite the rational talking to I had been given by myself. This was a few days ago. And already I feel better: I wouldn't have got the first draft finished if it hadn't been for the competition, and there must have been something about the writing that was deemed good enough for the long-list. So I am now going to do what I had planned to do had I not even been long-listed: I am going to leave the memoir to cook, soak, bubble, simmer for a few months. I am going to do some relevant reading (including a few other memoirs) and then, perhaps, sometime in 2015 I am going to return to it, do a second draft and quite possibly a third, and see how I feel about it then.


A decent excuse for not blogging for a while, I think.




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