I am fuming. Fuming is probably putting it mildly. I am as red in the face, with steam coming out of my ears fuming, as fuming can be.
For the past two months, I have been polishing my entry for a prize, the Lightship First Novel Prize 2014. A prize aimed at novelists who have not published any work whatsoever and aims to give new novelists a chance to have their work read by experts and the chance of seeing your words on the printed page with a proper cover and an agent to boot. Lightship is a small independent publisher in the UK. They run these prizes and have managed to convince some literary heavyweights including: Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate and Chairman of the Man Booker Prize 2010, Christopher Reid, Winner of the 2009 Costa Book Of the Year Award, Lindsay Clarke, Winner of the Whitbread Prize, 1989, Hilary Mantel, Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009 and Cynthia Ozick, finalist in the US National Book Award 1987, to be their patrons. Great list, I am honoured to be entering a prize that has patrons like that and the chance of that all elusive, dream book deal. I probably won’t get past the first round though but I have my dreams like everybody else.
Now why am I so angry you ask?
Well, I have worked day and night to get this far and today is the final date for submission of my novel’s first 10,000 words. My synopsis of 300 words is ready; my entry, the first 10,000 words of my novel, has been edited, proofread, re-edited, formatted and is also ready to submit; My account with Lightship created and personal details entered; My card for payment of the entry fees is ready: all good to go as far as I am concerned.
Here’s the catch (look closely at the picture):
The bloody competition is CLOSED! Now, my first reaction would be to blame myself. In fact, I am sure everybody’s reaction would be “Oh, you blithering idiot!”
Wait. Look at the picture below, the rules of the competition, and if you look at number 6 more closely, it clearly states that “The First Novel Prize will close at midnight on 31st January 2014. Any novels submitted after the deadline will not be eligible for entry.”
Now who’s the idiot? Me? I mean maybe my English is not what it used to be, but it would be safe to assume that “midnight on 31st January 2014” is going to be tonight – right? I mean even if we factor in GMT, there are still several hours to go. And the competition is closed? How, Why and WTF? Or is my English failing me and doubt creeping in: maybe it meant midnight on 30 January being midnight on 31 January? Come on, who am I kidding?
Should I write to them (I already have), should I go to Hull and bang on their door – I mean I like Hull, but… well you know where I am going with that idea. That, in a nutshell, is why I am angry. Angry at two-bob competitions that make you work towards a goal, only to have dreams shattered by not even being able to enter! A scam – that’s what I call it. I mean, I haven’t lost money, no. But I have lost an opportunity that I worked hard for and I feel bad because editors, proofreaders and friends all gave their time to read my “entry” and critique it and now it is not even an “entry” because it can’t be entered into the competition.
And why? Because of the sheer incompetence of someone at Lightship who either:
a) cannot write English themselves (the date issue), or
b) cannot run a simple website (no link to submit your work as well as clearly stating that the competition is closed before the actual closing time).
So Lightship – I find you incompetent and I hope one of your patrons comes across this post (okay, so I do like to dream – sue me) and gives you hell for using their names to promote yourselves by running a competition whose rules are flaunted by you!
And for those of you wondering what the novel is called… I will reveal all in my next post so hang in there and thank you for reading my rant!