I made the short list!
After more than three years of writing, editing and rewriting more times than I can possibly count, my story about a zero tolerance regime, Little did I know, has been shortlisted for the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.
To say I’m emotional is an understatement. I’m surprised, elated and my eyes are feeling a little puffy.
How did I get here?
Around the time of the Lindt Cafe Siege and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, I woke from an obscure dream of a zero tolerance regime. I was unsettled and the dream stayed with me. From that dream, grew a story about the abuse of power and control of women’s bodies for political gain. Little did I know that some of these fictional constructs would soon come close to reality with the ascendancy of Trump to the Whitehouse.
In 2015, an ad for a masterclass on the Australian Society of Authors website caught my attention. It was for a Novel Writing Masterclass with Kathryn Heyman. The one day workshop at the State Library was magnificent. Kathryn was warm, engaging and generous in sharing her knowledge. Soon after the worksop, Kathryn contacted me to offer a Mentorship by Invitation. My reaction then was similar to my reaction today.
And so, I began a 12 month journey of rewriting my infantile manuscript, under Kathryn’s guidance. At times she was complimentary, while at other times she was blunt, but she was always, always honest. Not only did I rewrite the entire manuscript from first person to third person, I also introduced another point of view, giving the reader insight into a second key protagonist. At the end of the mentorship, my writing skills had blossomed, as had my confidence.
Fast forward over 12 months and I have taken a knife to my manuscript, stitched it back together, I’ve engaged a beta-reader and received rejections.
Simultaneously, I have nearly finished drafting an entirely new manuscript and written a couple of short stories. Altogether, it’s been over seven years since I first typed out my first nervous words of fiction on to the blank screen.
This news is a reward for all those years of sitting down at the computer, staring at the screen and delving into my imaginary world, wondering if my words were any good. It is a reward for persistence, for not giving up and it’s a reward for doing what you love.
Given the relevance of my subject matter to current global politics, this shortlisting is also a reward for speaking up in whatever way possible, against the abuse of human rights and women’s rights, that still perpetuates around the world today.
The winner of the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award will be announced on Friday 6th July.