It will be two years in June since the journey to transform myself from casual to professional writer began in earnest. However, it won’t be until July that I can say I submitted any work with a belief it was finally good enough. Looking back on those early efforts, some days it feels as if words were being drawn on cave walls in darkness.
When I won something back in November, the sense I’d got lucky was very tangible indeed, because that’s what it was: luck. Trying to work out what it is that editors are looking for can be incredibly tough to fathom, especially if you only just learnt the basics of the language. Some will give an idea, many others none at all.
A lot of the time, your poetic voice is the only dialogue heard.
As time has gone on determination to get this right and learn my craft well refuses to diminish. Quiet revelation comes and goes, trying to balance a desire to be two separate people: one who writes ‘a certain way’ because she knows that’s what’s being asked, and the other who resents her voice being garbled to make a point.
Slowly, of course, the two begin to intersect: those resultant works may not win me anything, on reflection, but have become markers pointing a workable way forward. It helps hugely that there’s been some significant and pretty damning psychological changes during this period too. Those changes are only now beginning to emerge.
The difference, I suspect, could be everything in staying focused and determined.
What circumstance presents me with is a clear, fear-free path forward. Sure, I’ll still get angry when a well-known publisher can’t be bothered to use the software I had to submit with to acknowledge my failure. That’s just politeness and respect for your audience, after all. Failing no longer scares me, because that person has been left behind. This isn’t about validation either; to be honest, it never was.
Being different is absolutely fine. Not winning is totally acceptable. What matters now, more than anything else, is being true to the new person I am becoming. My poetic voice is becoming louder and more strident than it has ever been, and it will be used in new and liberating ways. The future is no longer something to be afraid of.
Happiness brings so many new possibilities.