In the third of a series of guest blog by past finalists, Jane Hardstaff, talks about the twisty-turny route to becoming a published author, and almost not entering Undiscovered Voices 2012!
When I was sixteen years old, I had a weekend job as a waitress in a hotel in the small market town where we lived. The hotel restaurant was the place you ate if you were old-school posh. It had a veneer of class (avocado vinaigrette, Dover sole and grouse in season), but underneath it was kind-of seedy with many unpleasant tasks for a waitress. It was my job to pick the flies out of the vinaigrette with a teaspoon. To descend to the creepy cold store, always worried I’d lock myself in. To clean up after the very hairy hotel dog. Every Friday and Saturday night, I’d arrive home stinking of grease and cigar smoke and I guess you could say this was a pretty uninspiring job. I wasn’t being mentored on some amazing internship. I was hiding from the sleazeball barman and developing an addiction to prawn cocktail.
At sixteen years old I had no particular ambition to be a writer. All I knew was I didn’t want to be a waitress. Fast forward a couple of decades. I’d travelled a twisty-turny route through several jobs, discovering along the way that the one thing that made me happy (and also weirdly unhappy) was writing.
If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should.
What has any of this got to do with Undiscovered Voices? I guess what I want to say is, it can take a long time to find your voice. And it can take just as long to pluck up the courage to get it out there. If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should. You are probably your own worst critic. Enter, because you have nothing to lose. And if you’re not longlisted, keep going. Write a better book. Write the book only you can write.
It may take half a lifetime to get there, but it will be worth it.
Jane Hardstaff (UV 2012) is the author of The Executioner’s Daughter and River Daughter (published by Egmont UK and Lerner Books USA). Longlisted for the Branford Boase, winner of the Salisbury Schools Book Award and selected for USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2017.
Submissions for UV2018 will open on 1st July 2017 and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for a reminder when submissions open?