I’ve blogged before about the Scottish trait of finding it hard to blow your own trumpet and it definitely applies to me. It’s never easy trying to sell yourself at a job interview, and I’ve squirmed whilst watching desperadoes through my fingers during the auditions for the X Factor (did anybody see the woman lap dancing for Louis in the fishnet body stocking last Sunday? So wrong on every level!). But it was my turn this week to try avoid clichés like, “I was born to write” and somehow convince the Scottish Book Trust (SBT) that I should be given a New Writers Award.
Every year, the SBT makes several awards to “individuals living in Scotland who are committed to developing their work as a writer. The winners will receive a £2000 cash award, allowing them to focus on their work, as well as a tailored package which can include mentoring from writers and industry professionals, training in Press and Public Relations (PR), Performance and the opportunity to showcase work to publishers and agents.
This year it will also include a week-long retreat at Cove Park. The retreat provides time, space and freedom to create new work and to find new ways of working in idyllic surroundings.”
All I had to do then was put together an application that stood out from the hundreds of others that the SBT receive each year. This wasn’t an easy task. How could I prove my passion for writing? I began by rewinding my writing journey and listed my achievements to date. At the start of 2012, I hadn’t been published at all so I’ve achieved my goal and been quite successful if I say so myself!
My latest published story is featured in the debut edition of Octavius and it was a real thrill to see my wee flash fiction in the magazine. Sadly, I missed the launch date as it was the night before my house move (I didn’t think swanning off to Edinburgh and leaving hubby to deal with the last-minute packing would’ve gone down well).
I’m also waiting to see one of my more risqué short stories printed in Valve journal due out any day now and I’ve just heard that another one of my flash fiction pieces will be published later in the year in Paragram anthology and a short story in the New Voices Press anthology is to be published by the Federation of Writers (Scotland). So all in all, I’m doing quite well with getting my work out there; in fact my bank of stories is pretty much empty. Time to get writing more while I wait for news of the award!
Of course, AFTER I submitted my application, I stumbled upon a blog post giving applicants advice from one of the panel members. The part where she said, “Don’t: Include links to your blog, ebook etc. I will not read these. Ever”, made me cringe as I’d inserted a link to this blog on the naïve assumption that it would demonstrate my “personal challenge to blog every week or so and I have sustained this commitment by writing 47 blog posts amounting to 25k words on a wide range of writing related topics.” Hey ho, she won’t read this anyway! But on a more positive note, she did add, “the odds are much, much better than the Lottery.”
I know of lots of great new writers who haven’t made the shortlist so I’m not overly confident but you can’t knock me for trying. Did you apply this year? Have you received any grants or awards to help you develop your writing?