So, I get this phone call. David Henley, Brio Books, the Fantastica Prize. 'Oh, right, wow - good to talk etc.' I mumble. It's only about two thirds the way through the phone call, during which David briefly mentions some issues with the manuscript that won me a shortlisting, and offers some really useful advice, that the word 'contract' drops in a sentence.
It takes me a little while to summon courage to check. 'Sorry, you mentioned a contract. What would that be in relation to?'
'Did I not mention earlier? You won.'
'Oh, right, yes, no, terrible phone-line out here in the mountains, I can barely...wait, what?'
'The...the...thing? The prize? The Fantastica Prize? I won it?'
[heavy sigh over the phone, as Henley realises he's offering a publishing contract to an idiot]
'Yes. You won. Congratulations.'
'Great. Wow. Yes. I see. That's, um, good. I'm somewhat to quite pleased by that news.' I enthuse, struggling and failing to get my head around this turn of events. After the call ends, however...
The long genesis and process of writing this spec-fic beast (currently 127 thousand words) has unexpectedly resulted in a publishing deal. From early idea-shuffling, character-finding and narrative-structuring, in one of Steve Rossiter's excellent groups, to an ASA-awarded mentorship with Alyssa Brugman, twelvety-ten edits later the monster is a winner. Let's party!
Later, at the same party, I attempt to explain the plot to a guest.
So, I'm officially delighted, not just for the win, the feeling of validation, and the hope that now the Writing Police won't kick the door in, tear up the contract and tell me to get a real job, but so I can enter a new phase of learning - collaborative editing with the publisher. I get actual professional help to polish the t...to make my work shine. Beyond that, the thought of people reading a book with my name on it...no, even my imagination can't stretch that far.