This week, I wrote five hundred words of rubbish on another blog-post idea before I realised that my heart wasn’t in it. So I ditched it and decided to write about what’s really on my mind, what’s been on my mind all week and what’s been lurking in the deepest recesses of my thought box for the last few months to be lured out and toyed with now and again, like a good plot twist, as I sit in Starfucks and dream about being a ‘real’ author who sits in Starfucks all day.
Tonight is a very big night in the calendar for around five hundred unpublished crime authors across the universe. Tonight could quite easily prove to be a watershed in the lives of a few of them. Tonight most of their hearts are going to be broken; dreams are going to be shattered; spirits crushed; tears will well and fall; cats are going to get kicked; alcohol is going to drown sorrows and there is likely to be some swearing (good swearing and bad swearing). For tonight, ten unpublished crime writers are going to have to hang on to their hats and their stools as their names are revealed as having been selected for the CWA Debut Daggers Crime Writing Award Shortlist at the Crimefest International Crime Fiction Convention in Bristol. The unsuccessful will be cast aside like the soiled £50 notes that Dan Brown is (allegedly) choking his chicken into for fun these days.
In October 2012 I wrote the following blog-post https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/and-the-winner-is/
In January 2013 I wrote this blog-post https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-acid-test-aka-a-cunning-plan/
You can see that I’ve thought about the Debut Dagger a bit. Like buying £75 worth of Lottery tickets, I think that I’ve had something out of my entries already in the form of fantasising about someone posh reading my name out and other people having to listen to him, bored. (I once heard the National Lottery referred to as taxation by illusion. I wonder why I’m thinking of that now.) For all but ten entrants, that bit of fantasy is all we’re going to get for our money.
Of course, getting on the shortlist guarantees nothing for an author. The CWA even boasts that winning the Debut Dagger is no guarantee of subsequent industry interest. But…
Will it be the end of the world for me if I don’t get a mention? No. It’s more serious than that. It will be the end of my efforts to try to attract the notice of a literary agent and then a traditional publishing deal. I do not query agents anymore and I will not enter this competition again. That reads as a bit snooty. It’s not meant to. It’s just how I feel because of how things have gone for me in self-publishing in the last couple of months. Like I said in my last blog-post: I don’t need a traditional publishing deal, but I do want one. I’m just not prepared to go begging for one any more.
Thankfully, when the sun of Saturday morning rises on my place in the world and, as is quite likely, I have failed in my attempts to get noticed, I do have another project that I’m working on that is exciting me and will distract me from my disappointment. I am going to self-publish as soon as I feel it’s ready. And then I have another Romney and Marsh to get cracking on. Defeat and rejection will not mean the end of me as a writer. But I might be a bit grumpy for an hour or two.
What will I be doing as the clock ticks down to announcement time and the official sorting of the wheat from the chaff? Well, as it happens, I’m going out on the lash in Kadikoy (Istanbul, Turkey) tonight. I turned fifty this week. I feel like that deserves a drink and a good dinner.
(Before someone points out to me that I am already published because I am self-published and so I am ineligible for the competition, I did, naturally, check this with the powers that be and was assured that so long as one met one’s own costs when self-publishing then self-publishing was not a barrier to entry. So there.)
Update: 31.05.2013. 23.20 GMT+2
Failure was just an option.