6th April 2018
A crazy thing happened on Tuesday. I won the Janklow and Nesbit prize so I now have an agent from the agency I wanted to represent me above all others.
Who gets this kind of luck?
When I found out I dropped to the ground, melodramatic twat, thinking of Amy Winehouse when she sang, ‘I cried for you on the kitchen floor’. Except, I wasn’t crying on the kitchen floor. I knelt on the crumb-covered shaggy rug in the living room, holding my phone, staring at the email, re-reading it. Had to consciously shut my mouth. My hands shook. Thoughts dashing, I checked the date wasn’t April 1st. Excitement doesn’t translate to my family by phone so I called Lindsey because she’s like a mum, mentor, and friend all mixed up. Plus, she’s a writer so understood the gravity. She chuckled, really happy for me.
Then I texted the family saying I needed to see them after work. I wanted them all together so I could tell them at the same time to polish it as sparkly as possible and make it the big deal it was.
At Mum’s, I broke the news and smiles crackled around the living room like lightning bolts. My brothers, so handsome, were all toothy grins under curls, afros, and dreads. Relief swept the room when they realised I wasn’t pregnant. Each jumped up to hug me; Israel, Ezra, Eli, then Dad and Mum.
‘What does it mean?’
‘Excellent, my love.’
‘This is the best news.’
‘Well done, Sis.’
‘Are you gonna be published?’
‘An agent? So you’re like a Z-list celebrity now? You need to get on Big Brother.’
‘What’s the cash prize divided by six?’
Raven wagged her tail before Saxon spewed up. It was the best moment of my life and I told them all, looking each in the eye, ‘This proves that we can do anything if we really want to.’
Dad missed that though because he ran out of the room, heaving in reaction to doggy puke so I reiterated to him after Eli cleared the snotty, grey liquid from the mat because it was Dad, Ez and Is that I wanted to say that to most.
At 31, I said to myself, ‘I will be a published novelist by the time I’m 35,’ and I thought that even if it didn’t happen, I’d at least be a better writer. For the first time, it feels in my world of possibility.
Now, it’s time for the hard work to start. Hellie Ogden (from Janklow and Nesbit) was encouraging saying my manuscript was ‘wonderful; raw, energised and original,’ but that the plot needed ‘A LOT of work.’ I’m hoping that she’ll be the agent to represent me and will be forthcoming with input because the story I’m trying to tell is so important and the plot as it exists, just isn’t good enough. I know that. At the moment, I’m kind of stuck and if King of Rabbits ends up published, I want to feel like it’s as brilliant as I could make it and does justice to the place and people it came from. Aside from the plot, there’s still so much I want to work on, dialogue, setting, peripheral characters. Like Erykah Badu said, it ‘goes on and on’.
BUT! I’m both excited and nervous, and desperate not to let Janklow and Nesbit down.
Aside from this, I wrote the first draft of my first funding bid at work this week which I’m pleased with because any type of writing should improve my craft and most writers have to support writing careers with a day job. What better day job than one that includes writing?
At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I can’t help but believe in the law of attraction. By being focused, determined, working hard, and exercising gratitude, I’m starting to believe that dreams can manifest into reality.
Despite the tummy turns every time I think of winning the prize, things have never felt so damn good.