Preparation of my first book proposal was gruelling. It was late June in 2013, and my husband and I were walking our four month old son in a park. Sleep-deprived and shattered, I was a couple of steps behind them desperately trying to think of a title and a plot to do my proposal. It was one thing to write down isolated memories which had a lot of energy for me, and another thing to shape them into a coherent book. The deadline for submitting the proposal to the Transformational Author Experience writing contest was fast approaching. I felt stuck and started panicking. As we watched ducks and coots darting around a lake, I told my husband about my difficulties.
‘Well, your story is in some ways similar to The Colour Purple,’ my husband tried to rescue me. ‘I also read a great piece about Maya Angelou on the news today. Check it out. Perhaps you’d get some inspiration,’ he said.
With all the inspiration in the world, I could not possibly finish it before the deadline, I sighed in despair. But somehow, piece by piece, I prepared my proposal and sent it off on the deadline.
I did not win a thing. Although I anticipated this, the disappointment was crushing. I told myself all sorts of things about my work: it was not good enough; I stood no chance given that the majority of authors were seasoned coaches and healers working on self-help books; I had no following; who cared about reading about my childhood in an obscure part of the world? Eventually, the voice in my head got exhausted.
This year I signed up to the contest again. Reading through the last year’s proposal, I realised the gaps I had left. Building on the wealth of great advice Christine Kloser and her experts impart on writing, publishing and marketing transformational books (http://transformationalauthor.com/) which I have been following for two years now, I re-wrote my proposal and sent it off hoping for the best.
On the day the results were due to come out, I kept checking and re-checking my e-mails. Nothing. Eventually, I willed myself to leave my computer alone. Listen, if you won, you’d be too excited to sleep. If you haven’t won, you’d be too disappointed, so either way, it’s best not to know today! I reasoned with myself all evening. At last, I could not help myself anymore. At 10pm, I checked my email and sure enough there was an e-mail from Christine Kloser. I rushed to the link with the names of winners. Scanning down the list, I could feel my face getting longer and longer. My name was not there. Until… I got to the very last entry.
Winner: Gulara Vincent, ‘The Smell of Ganja’
In that moment, I did not even care what I’d won. The validation of being among the top 35 people out of 200 was enough in itself. Winning a one year free subscription to Bookarma, a site where authors promote each other’s work, was certainly a cherry on the top.
Participating in writing contests can be a frustrating exercise. Winners are in the minority. But dream big. Keep learning from your previous experiences to make your work better. Most importantly, don’t give up! I am glad I didn’t listen to that voice in my head, and I am certainly planning to enter the contest again with the view of winning one of the bigger prizes.
What’s your big dream? Please share in the space below.