Why is it that even when I know deadlines for submissions and competition entries are looming, I leave everything till the last minute, and then it’s a mad rush to edit my writing, or fill in the forms, or write the covering letter? I’m not so absorbed in my work that I’m not aware of the passing days – right in front of me is a calendar with all the dates and times highlighted. I can’t claim I’ve forgotten all about it.
Typing away to finish, I wonder if in fact there’s some kind of acute pleasure in the adrenalin-fuelled panic which is made even sweeter by the sense of having actually finished something. The writing process, especially when you’re working on the marathon that is the novel, is so slow that perhaps this burst of intensity provides a much-needed break from the slow slog of the word count. As well as a legal high. And there’s also the feeling that I’m escaping from the quotidian drudgery for a few hours. A bit like doing real office work.
Or am I just disorganised? Everyone else sits down and does their homework, plans and ticks off the calendar. Submits weeks before the deadline. I used to be like that but seem to have grown out of it. If you’re one of those well done – I’ll try to be nice to you!
But I also think it’s something to do with the internet – we’re being bombarded with so many possibilities. Hundreds of magasines looking for our work, all those local and international competitions to be won. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and not to prioritise.
And, going on to a completely different point, so many organisers want to see the colour of our money before they’ll even look at our writing. I know they’ve got to fund the prizes, some are obviously more needy than others. But should it be the writers who are subsidising the prizes? In the same way, Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, has made a good point by resigning as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival. Writers are expected to give up their time for free to speak at this and many other festivals. Author Amanda Craig has called on writers to boycott non-paying festivals. The organisers of the Oxford festival have said they are going ahead with their team of ‘loyal volunteers’ this year but will “meet with all interested parties to discuss how to achieve payment of fees” from 2017. [from the BBC website]
I really think it’s about time writers stopped being expected to prop up the festival circuit and to fund so many of the prizes (not the small magasines who only exist on a shoe string – we all need to support them). But then I also think the government should be supporting the Arts more than they do. . .
And on a personal level I need to get organised! And prioritise. And get back to the marathon.