Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Shortlist oasis

I sometimes describe my writing career (I use the term loosely here) as a desert with the occasional oasis that makes it all worthwhile. What is the desert comprised of? Years of toiling in the dark, the laborious search for agents and publishers, the chimerical nature of the publishing industry that follows neither the rules of logic nor of commerce, the clogging up of online bookstores with the slush pile (there, I've said it, and I'm by no means referring to the worthwhile, well-written and edited indie books out there)...

...The shrinkage and near-disappearance of the author advance.
...The social media time-suck requirement that does little unless the writer is already established.
...The fact that some publishers are still robbing writers blind.

Sand, sand, lots of dry sand.

But every now and then something thrilling happens that makes it all worthwhile. Signing with my agent back in 2006 was one; she was the first industry professional to validate my writing, and one of my first fans. The first sale to a publisher, the first release, the first sighting of a book with your name on it in a bookstore, the first (and every single) fan letter, the good and great reviews, the writing network built up over years, the kindness of strangers...

My latest oasis experience has been the shortlisting of one of my stories for the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. I'm not ashamed to say it made me delirious with joy, partly because I'm well aware that genre writers, especially those who dabble in romance, are not taken seriously by the literary establishment. But that aside, it just feels good to have one's work recognised in this way. For the rest of the month, drinks are on me!


Kaz Augustin said...

Oh wow, that's FABULOUS news, Liane! Many many congratulations. You deserve it. And don't forget to have a drink on my behalf as well, since I can't be there to buy you one in person. :)

Liane Spicer said...

Kaz! Thank you! Turns out I didn't win, but I have to admit that being short-listed was lovely. I'm staying off the booze at the moment, but the next time I crack a bottle, I'll have one for you!