It’s an odd thing, this desire to write. More to the point: to write and to be published. So many of us have it, and so few succeed. Are we drawn to criticism, failure and self-punishment? Or is the drive to express oneself and have that expression validated by others somehow universal?
I often think that’s the real beauty of blogs and the internet. They take away the middleman and bring writers and readers together directly. I’ve often said that there’s a market for anything (although I did say it in the context of eBay, not books); and it’s just a matter of getting the buyer and seller in touch with each other. Honestly: spend some time on eBay, even just to amuse yourself. I swear you could sell toe lint on eBay and someone would buy it. No joke.
Of course, another thing I’ve often said is that there are so many crappy books out there, that surely I must be able to write something that some publisher somewhere would want to buy. Turns out I was wrong with that one. Or so far, at least.
But getting published is like getting my first job was, back in the recession of ’92: you needed experience to get a job, and you needed a job to get experience. I recently had some advice from a woman in the publishing industry: avoid the slush pile at all costs (the slush pile is where publishers put all the unsolicited manuscripts they get). To avoid the slush pile? Get a literary agent. But – and here’s the rub – to get a (legitimate) literary agent, you need an offer. See what I mean? How to get an offer without an agent? How to get an agent without an offer?
And just when I was about to give up, I heard about the CBC Literary Awards. Backed up by $60,000 in prize money from the Canada Council for the Arts, this is Canada’s only literary competition featuring unpublished works in both of Canada’s official languages. There are three categories: short story, poetry and creative non-fiction. The deadline is November 1st, and I’m almost done with the finishing touches on my first ever submission. I am most likely setting myself up for another round of literary disappointment, but I will hold my head up high and remember that that which does not kill us only makes us stronger.
And there will always be next year, because this contest celebrates unpublished works.
Kath is a regular urbanmoms.ca contributor in her blog Losing It.