Well, you pay your subscription - in this case to The Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. And you bide your time. And you hone your craft. And you learn to take rejection on the chin. And you never give up.
And then one day, your moment in the sun has come and you find yourself enjoying a proper, posh, afternoon tea with linen napkins and dinky French pastries and cucumber sandwiches along with fellow writer friends at the start of a day of celebration. Well fed, you retire to your room for a teensy snooze and then a shower before climbing into your gladrags for the evening because this is your moment - you find yourself in the line-up for the New Writers' Scheme Joan Hessayon Award, along with eight others hopeful of taking home the big cash prize and the trophy. If you're like me - it seems a miracle that you're there at all.
So it was for me on the 17th May 2012 in the rather grand venue of The Royal Overseas League, India and Pakistan Hall....or something like that....I'd had a glass of wine by then to still my nerves so exact details elude me now.
I've been to a few of these 'dos' now and never was the frock and the shoes and the make-up so important!
Oh yes, the shoes.....RNA members and their shoes are legendary! And there were some stunning pairs there for the 2012 awards.
I have to be honest here and say that when I joined the NWS I didn't even realise there was a prize....I thought it was merely a process to becoming a published romantic novelist......however long that process took!
I didn't win the big prize on Thursday night and I didn't come away with the shiny trophy but I did come away with an Award Certificate and £50 which I intend to spend on perfume because, well, perfume seems such a frivolity in a recession and we all need frivolity sometimes and now I have the wherewithal to have some.
My book, TO TURN FULL CIRCLE, is published by Choc Lit and.....banners out here, please, lots of flag waving.....it was a Choc Lit writer, Evonne Wareham, who did go home with the big prize and the shiny trophy for her novel NEVER COMING HOME.
Lots of whoops of joy from the other (including me) Choc Lit authors in the room.
A lovely start to the evening.
But that wasn't all.....the prize for Romantic Novel of the Year went to Jane Lovering - another Choc Lit author - for PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC.
I felt I'd won both awards by association...and that's the truth.
The champagne was still flowing, The Royal Overseas League provided the best nibbles I've ever had at an event like this and the room was packed with happy chatter.
But 9 p.m. - and chucking out time - came and so we all bundled ourselves into taxis - some to eat in swanky restaurants, some to a bar somewhere, some to trains or cars and the journey home. I - along with my daughter and some RNA friends - made my back to The New Cavendish Club and my bed for the night....but before that a little more wine to celebrate being part of the Choc Lit family and a fantastic evening.
And it didn't end there! The next day, Choc Lit invited their writers to lunch and so I made my way to Pizza Express in a taxi by an extrememly roundabout route as half of London seemed to be blocked off in readiness for the Olympics.
At Pizza Express more champagne flowed and Margaret James, my daugher, and I decided it would be a good idea to help it (and the delicious lunches we had eaten) dissipate by walking back to The New Cavendish Club. The New Cavendish Club is a home from home now so after our long walk back we kicked off our shoes and collapsed into comfy couches and ordered tea while we waited until it was time to walk to Paddington and our train.
Now, train journeys can be tedious and boring and you can end up sitting by people you wish you didn't have to sit by but that wasn't how it was for me......complete with helium-filled star and heart balloons I have to add here. All around us were in happy spirits....the journey sped by.
Journey's end.....or is it? I have a sequel to write....and then the third in the trilogy.....better get on, hadn't I??
Evonne Wareham with her shiny trophy.
Jane Lovering with a well-deserved grin giving her speech of thanks.