Hello again. The big news is … [drum roll, please] … I finished the memoir. Yes, after all this time! How did it happen, you wonder? Well, I had my final phone-meet with Judith, my ASA mentor, two weeks ago. Judith loved the new version – and even though she’d read my story before, she just didn’t want it to end this time. Her words made my spirits soar. What a relief! I don’t know what I would have done if Judith had said: ‘Sorry, Helena, I think you’ve still got a long way to go with this manuscript.’ Judith had a few further suggestions on how to improve the narrative – proposed so tactfully that they almost seemed like my own suggestions – but these were only minor and I managed to knock them off during the next ten days. Then, on Thursday night, after I’d read through the draft once again, I said to myself: ‘I think I’ve finished the book.’
One time, when I asked Anne Reilly, my supportive and ever-so-patient editor at HarperCollins, how I would know when to send her the memoir, she said: ‘You just simply submit it to me when you feel you’ve got it as beautiful and polished as possible.’ I was a little concerned about how I would know when that time came, but that’s exactly how it felt on Thursday night … like I couldn’t do anymore. I sent the memoir through to Anne yesterday, and it was a big moment in my life. As I pressed the ‘send’ button, my heart beat fast, and for a moment I thought I was going to have a mild anxiety attack. I’ve since calmed down, of course, and am feeling much lighter. Time to make way for the new. And now … another period of waiting, as Anne reads the manuscript and decides whether it is ready to be given to one of the publishers. As I’ve said before, much of a writer’s life is spent waiting.
In the meantime, I keep applying for things. I missed out on the Hazel Rowley Fellowship, but over the past month, while everyone else in Armidale was holidaying at the coast, I spent my days sorting out a budget and answering questions for an Early Career Residency grant with the Australia Council. I’m just about finished, thank goodness – and it’ll be worth it if it comes through – but jeez. My proposed arts project is to develop ‘Stories from the Shed and On the Road’ (which I mentioned in my last blog post) into a much larger project that will firmly establish a creative writing culture at the BackTrack Shed. By the way, I had my first day as writer-in-residence with BackTrack today – attending a Paws Up dog jumping event at the Armidale Racecourse for Australia Day – and I really enjoyed being back in the world of boys and dogs and circle work and good-natured humour. Soon after I got to the racecourse, though, one of the dogs peed on my leg while I was leaning against a pole. I was a bit embarrassed, but then decided to see it as a friendly initiation gesture – a sign of welcome – and didn’t even bother running off to a tap to rinse my leg. This is the new tolerant me, and after today, going on the road with those boys and dogs doesn’t seem quite as daunting anymore. I reckon 2013 is going to be a very good year. Hope it feels that way for you, too. Until next time …
Great post Helena. GOOD LUCK with Harper Collins. You deserve a big break. It’s a wonderful book and I can’t wait to read it between covers with your name on it. Love Edwina xx
Thanks Edwina … hope you’re enjoying a lovely rainy day. xx H
Hi Helena, it sounds simply marvellous, congratulations on yyour achievement, Penny Main