You Can Do It

The deadline for submissions to the Montegrappa Writing Prize is 18 January 2019. That’s plenty of time for you to put together a first draft of your novel. As I write and as you read, writers around the world are bashing out their 50,000-word novels for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Writing at a rate of between 1,600 and 1,700 words a day, by the end of November they will have a manuscript of 50,000 words or more. Not all these words will be in the right order but, as I hope you all realise, “writing is re-writing.”


Once you have a body of text, you can do as Montegrappa winner Jessica Jarlvi did: “experiment, edit, delete, rewrite and fine-tune” to knock your story into shape. So, Reason Number One is that you can do it. It’s technically possible for you to write your novel in one month. How you set about it is what we will be looking at over the next few weeks.


Write While The Story Is Hot

You need to write the story that’s been burning a hole in your brain. If you start on it in six months’ time, or next year, or when you retire, you may, by that time, be “over” it, and publishers and agents will be “over” you when you submit what you’ve produced. Stories can chase you for a very long time, but if you ignore them, they may just go away. Luigi Bonomi in his recent Writing Tips article explains very eloquently how writing trends come and go, and he identifies what kind of books publishers are currently looking for. This is a very good reason why you must read as a writer. You need to know who is writing what, and how they are writing it.

In her book Why will no-one publish my novel?, veteran author Fay Weldon provides a list of nine reasons why a publisher might reject your novel. One of those reasons is that you may just be out of touch. Reason Number Two, then, is that if you don’t write your book now, you may never write it, or you may attempt to write it when it is too late to be of interest to anyone, including yourself.


Get Noticed

You may be under the illusion that, having finished your first draft and sent the initial pages to an agent or publisher, it’s just a question of time before you get “The Call” and the three-book deal. Snoopy thought that too when he wrote a follow-up letter to his chosen publishers lamenting that he had waited all day for them to come and get his novel to publish it and make him “rich and famous.” There are an awful lot of writers out there, and the chances of you getting your work seen and recognized are limited.

In the United States alone, over 20,000 people apply each year for entry to creative writing degree programs. Imagine how many books they’re turning out. Go on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll find them clogged up with writers talking about their works-in-progress. Reason Number Three why you need to write that book now is that here in the UAE by entering for the Montegrappa Prize, you really do have a unique opportunity to jump the world queue of debut novelists and get your book seen and read by experts.

So, if you are serious about becoming a published author, start without further delay. Write that book now.


Written by Janet Olearski

Janet Olearski is the founder of the Abu Dhabi Writers’ Workshop. Her most recent publications include the story collection, A Brief History of Several Boyfriends and, as editor and contributor, The Write Stuff anthology. Her characters sometimes meet untimely deaths in very dubious circumstances. She wants to reassure readers that her stories are fictional and not autobiographical. Read more at: http://www.janetolearski.com