Awards and grant opportunities for non-fiction writers working on book projects are nowhere near as plentiful as they are for fiction writers, so when a friend sent through the link for Hardie Grant’s Spark Prize, it took me about five minutes to decide to enter once I’d read through the guidelines.
That decision was the easy part.
After re-reading the guidelines, and the submission criteria several times, entering this award wasn’t going to be quite the piece of cake it looked like at first. After all my work was in progress, I’d written multiple bios of varying lengths by this time, and I had a previous submission for a similar award offered by the Australia Institute 18 months ago. Surely a quick re-write to bring things up-to-date would be enough.
Needless to say I wasn’t successful with the AI award but writing a succinct yet detailed synopsis was a valuable and worthwhile experience even so. The criteria for the narrative non-fiction Spark Prize are even more stringent with their requirement to provide a detailed chapter outline of the work-in-progress. Understandably Hardie Grant want to be sure they are investing in authors serious about their particular project, and that a significant start on it has already been made. A chapter outline, detailed or otherwise, isn’t something I’d given any thought to at all. I was just ‘getting it down’ as it had been suggested I do, not get bogged down in the finer detail of what happened when, and by whom.
So that part took longer to do than expected, and the 3000 word limit that I initially thought was rather generous, turned out to be barely enough. It also meant I had to dig around in the less-than-perfectly-organised documents and files on my computer to check on certain facts, figures and dates. It was a valuable reminder of the importance of up-to-date careful filing, dating and labelling, and necessitated a spot of much needed organising and sorting. At least now information retrieval has been made easier.
My lovely mentor Robyn has generously offered to read through my completed submission before I send it off, so now it’s a matter of awaiting her verdict and hoping she doesn’t suggest too much rewriting given the deadline is only a matter of days away, and my attention now needs to turn to ongoing work opportunities, ones for which I also get paid!
Image courtesy of Google images (unlicensed)