|Fat, dumb & happy.|
Right before the BIG DEAL happens, there I sit fat, dumb and happy, trying to decide if it’s harder to know or not know. Fiction writers do this all the time. Wonder WHAT. WHICH. HOW. WHY. The wondering of the moment is, as a novelist, which would be worse:
Worseness Option 1: To know what you’re writing now isn’t as good as what you wrote the last time and there’s no way to drag up something better from yourself. The point where you know it’s over, the snap of creativity gone, is that worse than =>
Worseness Option 2: What you’re writing now is leaps and bounds better than what you wrote the last time, so you don't know why no one wants it. The bug flying against the window experience.
So anyway, I’m thinking about this when notice of the BIG DEAL comes and swipes all Worseness Options off the table. My leaps-and-bounds-better pleased someone in an office far, far away. The fact that nine other writers have pleased the same office doesn’t matter.
Last century (literally) when another BIG DEAL happened to me, the people at work threw an impromptu tea party, complete with cake. This century, my office mates are a cat and social media. If you have a cat, you know there are only cat BIG DEALS. Social media, it is, so.
By the end of the day, all congrats are done and dusted, pushed out of the way by what Ted’s cooked for dinner and the latest jab at men, women, the conservatives, the liberals, and a video of a juggling hedgehog. Virtual life lacks appropriate rituals to celebrate and cleanse the emotional palate. Not being the sort of person to whine about the good old days, I go to bed.
The next morning, two of the other nine people loved by that office far, far away have followed me on Twitter. How cool is that? So I look up all nine people, find five of them and friends of two others, send my congrats, Google for anything that any of them have ever written since pre-school. While I’m stalking them, they post congrats back to me and this is all very civilised for a battle to the death via BIG DEAL.
And then that’s over because this is virtual camaraderie. I, who used to spend my day giving witness to people’s most intimate secrets, I’m on my own now.
|Tell me it ain't so!|
That evening, there’s a Tweet from one of the others => Is anyone writing?
It made absolute sense. Here we all were, ten recipients of the BIG DEAL, our 15 seconds of virtual celebration over – who else knew better what we were feeling than the people we were in competition with? And none of us able to focus or write – I, myself had spent the day in a hammock with the Edinburgh Book Festival brochure. After jokes about becoming an instant therapy group, the virtual friendship ended. The inevitable, I suppose, because only one of us wins.
Four hundred people submitted for this BIG DEAL. Four hundred voices with four hundred stories so powerful, they couldn’t give them up, draft after draft after draft. Four hundred voices who dared sing out loud; three hundred ninety-nine will go quietly into the night.
I only know ten of those four hundred. Here are the other nine. Read them. Follow them on Twitter. Check out their blogs and websites. Keep them writing. Let them know we hear them singing.
The Dundee International Book Prize shortlist:
Under the Tamarand Tree
Rosaliene Bacchus, California
Daughters of the House of Love
Veronica Birch, West Country
She’s evaded my stalking efforts.
The Open Arms of the Sea
Jasper Dorgan, Wiltshire
Sea Never Dry
Ben East, Virginia
Some Things the English
Rachel Fenton, Auckland
A Village Drowned
Sheena Lamber, Dublin
Out Like a Lion
Robin Martin, New York
Amy Mason, Bristol
Suzy Norman, London