|Contenders for the Joan Hessayon Award.|
That's me in the white jacket in front of the window.
I was at the Romantic Novelists' Association's summer party in London and I was up for a prize. The lovely Jo Thomas deservedly won the Joan Hessayon Award for debut novelists but (let’s just get the non-writerly cliches out of the way while I still have what passes for an excuse) everybody was a winner. I certainly felt like one. Name up on a slide if not in lights, name check, photographs — oh, those pesky paparazzi! — certificate. And of course, that new frock. (Yes, that’s the end of a long story involving several shopping trips and a pair of very expensive walking boots.)
So now that I’ve digested the canapés it’s time for a period of mature reflection. A writer’s life is full of ups and downs. Once I finally liberated the much-travelled helium balloons in my living room (to the cat’s clear puzzlement) it was time to hang up the frock (smelling faintly of wine, alas) and go back to what’s next.
It’s this. It’s scratching my head over my latest detailed synopsis and trying to work out which of my characters is lying to which other and, most crucially, which of them is keeping a terrible secret from me (because if I knew I might be able to do something about that plot problem). It’s trying not to get over-anxious because I haven’t heard about my latest submission even though it hasn’t really been out in the world long enough to miss me. It’s staring at a blank screen and then cleaning the kitchen floor because at least if I do that I’ll have something to show for my time.
And it’s dreaming about the RNA summer party. My mind keeps going back to it. Old friends, new friends. Fellow travellers in a peculiar world. The madness of sitting in a cafe with those balloons the morning after, eavesdropping on a brainstorming session between two advertising people preparing a presentation. (Switzerland, sugested one, so green you’ll wish you’d been born a cow).
Yes, I know. Most of a writer’s life is more lonely than this. But like anyone else writers have highs and they have lows. This was a high. I’m going to cling to it.