It is almost a year since I read the announcement of The Richell Prize, on Hannah Richell’s beautiful blog. Almost a year since I wondered if I could stretch the one thousand word beginning of a story into one full chapter, let alone the three required. I had never written much more than a couple of thousand words of fiction before.  I had no idea how long a chapter should even be!

Submission page Richell prize

In 10 weeks I had my three chapters, and She Sells Sunshine was off and running, and submitted for the prize. It was, of course, pure fantasy to believe that I had any chance of winning. Those chapters still need loads of work, but what I thank the founders of the Richell Prize for is that of opening the floodgates, the gift of self belief, and then the bigger gift, the 46,000 words/11 chapters that have grown from the initial offering.

Writing she sells sunshine

I write slowly. Sometimes it’s only the two hours a week on Wednesdays when Lady is in daycare and Boodi’s respite carer is here, but some weeks when my mum is staying, I get to spend a whole day at the library, writing and plotting. I could do better,  I love my story. It’s been a long road and this first draft is still only half done, and when that is finished, the real work begins! A plodding road, but I have never lost my way, never gotten stuck in the mud. From a distance I sometimes think that my writing isn’t good enough (when I’m reading some amazing book), but each time that I return to it, I know that it has good, strong, beautiful bones. I know that it is worthy of the work in a way that means it doesn’t even matter if it is ever published, because this work is my therapy and my way forward and through the world.

My cousin last week asked me if I was submitting for the Richell again this year. I hadn’t even thought of it since the announcements of the winners last year. Though I could do extensive (rather feverish) work on those three chapters in the next 3 weeks and include a much better synopsis and upcoming chapters summary, the truth is that I would rather spend the time hammering out the rest of my first draft, so I can turn back again to the beginning and commence the craft that makes the words sing into people’s hearts.

Are you submitting for the Richell this year?

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT