Go for it – Maxine Morrey

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By Maxine Morrey

2015 was the year I decided to just go for it. The year I decided to believe in myself, and my writing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a writer, which means I still have confidence crises all the time – but this is really all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’d got close a few times but never quite got the proverbial cigar. I was determined to change that.

I’ve done the rounds of agents and publishers time and time again and although I got some nice comments, the stars never quite aligned. As anyone who’s done this knows, getting rejected or – what I find even harder to deal with – plain ignored over and over again can be pretty soul destroying. Yes, I know, it comes with the territory but saying that doesn’t make it any easier when that ‘thanks, but no thanks’ email drops into your inbox. So why do we carry on?

Because writing is what we do. I realised this at the end of 2014. I’d been writing on and off literally forever but it was that moment that I made a resolution and a plan. I knew that quite a few authors had got started in their careers through winning a competition, including Cressida McLaughlin, Holly Martin, and Carole Matthews. So this was my plan. 2015 was going to be all about the competitions. Even if I didn’t place anywhere, it was still good practice for getting a decent wordcount and hitting deadlines.

I began scribbling. I was going to do this! This time I was just going to go for it. And keep going for it. The first competition was a Choc Lit one and although I didn’t place in the top three, I had a lovely email from them advising that I had missed out by just one point. On one hand it was frustrating, but on the other, it was hugely encouraging and that’s the side I chose to focus on so I kept on looking for competitions offering novel publication. I was working on one when I saw another – the Carina (now HQDigital) #WriteChristmas competition. The deadline was just days away.

Racking my brain, I suddenly remembered a novel I had begun but literally only had the opening for. Taking the idea, I began rewriting it, at which point it began morphing, unplanned into a rom-com rather than the romance I’d thought it was going to be. I love this aspect of writing – when the book becomes what it is meant to be. Powering on, I wrote the first three chapters as per the terms of the competition, editing and tweaking ferociously! With ten minutes to go until the competition closed, I pressed Send.

As I worked on yet another competition, the Carina one went to the back of my mind, so when I received ‘The Call’ that day in August, I was completely stunned! It all felt incredibly surreal (and not just because I was in hospital and still suffering the slightly woo-woo after effects of general anaesthetic!). I felt so happy and more than that, it felt like a validation. It was the start of an adventure – that’s for sure! I wrote the rest of the book in under a month – which was interesting!

Since then I’ve written three more for HQ, none of which would been written if I hadn’t decided to just go for it. You can too. Whether you choose to self-publish, to enter competitions, or to go the agent route, the most important thing you can do is just let go of the doubts and focus on the writing. Believe in yourself and just go!

Maxine Morrey has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm! As time went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. After self-publishing her first novel when a contract fell through thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities. In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, Winter’s Fairytale. Her latest novel, The Best Little Christmas Shop, is out now.


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