Once upon a time there was a writer who hated editing. (It's me. The writer is me. Bear with me; this story does have a point.) This writer had a completed novel manuscript that was sorely in need of an edit, and had roped in two excellent friends to provide feedback. Their feedback was insightful, considered, and incredibly helpful, and now that writer faced a new problem: she was going to have to put the feedback into effect. She was going to have to edit the manuscript.
So, she did what anyone would do and procrastinated. The house got very clean, put it that way. And when this writer was finally forced to confront the fact that the novel would not, in fact, edit itself, she decided to game her resistance: she entered the novel, partially edited, into the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair. The competition only required the first 10,000 words, which were complete, and the organisers would ask for the complete MS only if it was selected as a winner. But selection wasn't until December - three full months away. That was ages. Surely, the writer reasoned, surely she would have completed the edits by then?
Cut a long story short, I got one of the best phone calls of my writing career late one Friday afternoon shortly before Christmas 2013. Had I completed the edits by this point? Had I even started to complete the edits? Reader, I had not. But it turns out that it is actually possible to fully edit a 150,000 word manuscript over a weekend, if you're willing to forgo sleep and eat only biscuits. I don't recommend it, but it's possible.
The Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair led directly to the first publication of my novel. It's a truly fantastic opportunity. Earlier this year, I had the chance to chat with another recent winner before he took part - as a result of this year's novel fair, he signed with an agent and sold his novel. If you're an unpublished novelist with an MS that's ready - or mostly ready - to go, I can't recommend it highly enough. Submissions are currently open and will be for the remainder of this month.
The Novel Fair opens doors for unpublished authors; it's as simple as that. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been selected as a winner and to have had access to the opportunities it affords. I'm more than happy to answer any questions about my own experience (simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating, by the way, in a manner that doesn't compare to anything else I've come across) - in the comments, if you like, or via email, if you prefer. But be aware: I'm going to encourage you to just do it. Because you definitely, definitely should.
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