It is T-minus-2 days and counting until Mslexia announces the winner of its inaugural novel writing competition.
I have stats.
About 1800 novels were entered into the competition, or the beginnings of them anyway. That’s something like 9,000,000 words. There were 100 books on the long list. So maybe another 9,000,000 words. I’m one of the twelve writers to make it onto the short list.
I don’t know how big the average slush-pile gets, but 1800 books amounts to a pretty decent personal library. None of this matters much, I suppose, when you consider that my little novel appears to be in the top 0.0067 percent of those entered for this competition.
I’m rather impressed with myself.
In the end, though, the statistics that matter are the ones that emerge after the competition. This will have been a success for all of the shortlisted writers and for Mslexia if the good word is spread about first-time women writers, if the winning book transcends the norm in some way, if it rises above the slush-pile. If, heaven help us, the winning novel, or any in the top dozen is published then the statistics will really begin to count for something.
The Mslexia needs to build a reputation. If the shortlisted books for the inaugural prize are good and if they prove it by being published, then other women writers will want to take part in this competition in the future. The more good books that are published from the short list, the more successful the writers who emerge from the process, the better it will be for the prize, and the better it will be for future prize winners.
I hope that, when this is all over, I’ll get the chance to speak to all of the other writers. I hope I’ll get the chance to persuade as many of them as I can that we’re a special little band of a dozen women who can make our mark on each other’s personal and writing lives, and maybe even on the world.