When I entered the Mslexia prize, I honestly thought no more about it. That was way back in the spring of last year, and I had lots on my mind, not least renovating the house. Anyway, when the long list was announced, late in October, I suddenly got quite excited. I even kept the e-mail in my ‘saved’ box so that I could read it again.
I didn’t think for a moment that I’d be on the short list. I didn’t know, then, how many books were on the long list, but I did know that I’d been invited to submit my entire novel. So, I’m sure I can be forgiven for the little ripple of excitement that tickled my spine as I dropped the fat envelope, containing my manuscript, into the post box.
Then, without actually counting the days, I did become aware of the passage of time, and I waited with keen anticipation for the short list to be announced. I didn't expect "Naming Names" to be on it, but I was thrilled that it was.
Even then, knowing that I'd made it into the final twelve, I still didn’t think about winning the Mslexia competition, until, that is, I began talking to someone about the experience. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that of course I wanted to win.
He was right.
And that is when the fear began to set in.
I had been terrified for about a week when the husband gave me a stiff, but kindly, talking-to.
I hope that whoever wins the Mslexia wrote a thoroughly good book. I hope that they are nice, hardworking and talented. I’m sure that they are all of those things.
But here’s the thing. This is, of course, a competition, but if all of the dozen books on the shortlist are worthy of being published, there’s a pretty good chance that all twelve will find their ways onto the shelves of our book shops and libraries.
I might not win the prize, but that’s ok, because I have faith that the practices developed over the years by writers, agents and publishers will work in my favour, and, one day, I will see my work in print, whether it’s this book, or the next, or the one after that.
Sanguine, you see, not fatalistic at all.