In my previous post, I mentioned I had entered the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa (ROSA) contest for unpublished Authors. The requirements was to submit the first three chapters of my novel, together with a synopsis on 1 May, 2018.
The only reason I entered the contest was to work with a mentor. To guide me through the process of writing a novel. I had no expectations of going further, in fact, I didn’t think I stood a chance at all.
When the results of first round of the contest was set to be announced, I was a nervous wreck. I hate the waiting game and wanted to crawl under a rock and appear when it was all over. It was the evening of 14 June, 2018 and I was coming out of gym, having finished my swimming lesson, when I saw a missed call on my phone. It was from the Chairperson of ROSA, Romy Sommer. I returned the call and immediately assumed she was letting me know that I hadn’t made it. Instead she announced ̶ I was one of the finalists going into the second round of the contest!! I was shocked beyond belief. Me, a finalist in a romance novel competition ̶ wow just wow!
I’m not sure how I drove home that evening. I was screaming and crying at the same time. I dropped my bags in the lounge and ran to Neil to share the news with him, and the girls. They were ecstatic for me. I was on such a high, I couldn’t contain myself. I allowed myself a day of celebration, basking in the glory of having surpassed my goals for 2018.
But then it hit me, how much work I had to do, to finish my novel by 31 July, 2018! Six weeks was all I had. At that time, I was about 70% into my novel. But considering we were given four months to finalize three chapters, how was I going to finish my novel, edit it myself and submit on time? I had no clue, but I had a deadline that was chasing me, and I had no choice but to deliver.
I can’t begin to explain how hard I had to work to get my novel finished. Bear in mind, it’s my first and I had no previous experience. I was thrown into the deep end and I had to swim or drown. And I swam, as fast and as hard as I could. I went away on a solo writing weekend, away from my commitments, my family, anything that was a distraction to me. I worked late into the night, every-single-day. I stopped exercising, socializing and attending meetings, just to finish on time. And I did – I finished my novel on 2 July, 2018 with a heart full of gratitude.
The hard work wasn’t over yet. I took a small break, read it and worked with a writer friend, who checked it and highlighted discrepancies. The editing process had begun and I have to admit, it’s the worst part of writing for me. But, my mentor said, “editing makes your writing better”, and I saw that happening as I progressed.
I submitted my finished manuscript exactly on 31 July, 2018. I have never worked so hard ̶ ever! It has been an unbelievable journey for me. When I set out to write my novel last year, all I knew was that the time was ripe to fulfill my dream. This competition raised the stakes, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Seven months of the year was committed to it. I ate, slept, prayed and meditated on this novel. It was everything to me.
The good Lord has been my saving grace from the beginning. He gave me the idea for this novel, steered me in the direction of my dreams, guided me in writing scenes I was too afraid to put on paper. He wiped my fears away and gave me the belief I could do it.
I never expected to get this far. And even if my manuscript doesn’t win, I am already winner as I have a finished novel 🙂 One day at a time, one word at a time, I’ve made my dream a reality <3