My brain has been so scrambled with recent deadline issues that I haven’t been taking full and proper notice of the world beyond my keyboard. Apparently, while I’ve been putting my poor, tormented hero (we’ll call him Olivier, as that’s his name, though for some random reason I’ve been keeping that quiet) on the rack, life has been continuing around me, in all sorts of exciting ways. Like this one, for example...
But the other thing that I really like about this competition is the timing. Oh yes. It might not seem like it at the moment, when if you’re anything like me the only thing you can think of writing is lists beginning ‘buy sellotape,’ and ending 'world peace', but once all that Christmas business is over we’ll hit the best time of the whole year for making things happen. New Year.
The deadline for entries is Valentine’s day, so in case anyone reading this is thinking of entering I’m starting a sort of coaching programme right here-- kind of like sporty-type people would do ahead of a big race, but without involving trainers or unflattering tracksuits (not in public anyway... I absolutely swear by pyjamas for writing, but it’s quite important that you remember not to venture out in them.)
Here’s phase one. Enroll now.
1. The first thing to do is put Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance on your Christmas list. Preferably near the top (the only thing that’s allowed to take preference is diamond earrings... but in my experience it’s not even worth trying). If you think there’s still a margin for error and by some horrible chance it might not appear in your stocking on the big day, slip one into your Amazon basket while doing the buying for everyone else.
2. On Christmas day, the moment the last sprout has been scraped into the bin (and you’ve finished asking yourself whether it was worth spending 2 hours cutting crosses into 97 of them) recruits will be expected to settle down with the above book, and a glass of wine, and think... Romance. Conflict. Passion. Just think, mind... no writing yet.
3. In that lovely dead time between Christmas and New Year you'll be expected to slope off for plenty of long baths, with a box of Belgian truffles and an armful of Mills&Boon Moderns or Modern Extras. You'll read, lots, and this is when you'll need to decide, if you haven’t already, which line you’re targeting.
4. New Year’s Eve... is when the Big Girls get serious. As midnight strikes you have to kiss the nearest person to you and think this is the year I’m going to give my dreams a chance. (The kissing bit is probably optional, depending on who the nearest person is. If it’s James d’Arcy you have a solemn duty to act on my behalf.)
5. New Year’s Day. Those who've stayed the course so far will be allowed the morning off to recover from their hangovers, (and make any necessary phonecalls to apologise for the kissing) but by the evening will have to have prepared themselves for the task that lies ahead. After all, there's just 6 weeks to go until the closing date, and the first job is to write that synopsis...
And, in the New Year we’ll pick up the training from there! If you're at all thinking of entering....DO it!!