Monday, 27 September 2010


After not getting around to it all weekend, I've knocked off my application for the HarperCollins Varuna Awards this evening. I was probably planning to agonise over the several chapters to be submitted -- you know, read painstakingly through 17,000-odd words and take a word out here, change a phrase there, add some telling detail . . . worry myself sick that it's just not good enough!

To hell with it. I don't have time to spend days agonising over it, and how much better could I make it in the timeframe really? I did have another go at tweaking the all-important first chapter last week, but that will just have to do the job. I even belted out the one-page summary of "my writing life and experience" without excessive consideration. And I can't quite decide whether it's a good or a bad thing that they've not requested a synopsis. It's daunting to think I'll be judged on incomplete chapters alone. I guess fate will decide whether I am worthy for this program.

For the uninitiated, the HarperCollins Varuna Award is a live-in Editorial Residency from 27 April to 6 May next year. Basically, from the hundreds of applications they will no doubt receive, Varuna 'The Writers' House' selects 20 manuscripts to send to five HarperCollins editors, who each choose one they'd like to work with. The lucky author then gets to stay for 9 days at Varuna, which is in the Blue Mountains, and work with the editor (for some of the days) on the novel.

So there are only 5 places, and you'd have to be so lucky to get picked, but if you do it's a fabulous opportunity to have your manuscript read and worked on by a HarperCollins editor. Making the shortlist of 20 would be cool too, because you can get your manuscript assessed (for a relatively modest fee) by the people at Varuna. Obviously it would also instil a little hope!

If I don't get into this program, I will probably apply for a writing residency at Varuna for later in the year, when I have a new project to work on. And if I don't get into that, I can always just throw money at it and book a couple of weeks to soak up the atmopshere and write while being fed and watered and banned from the internet.


  1. Good luck with it! The year Cat and I applied we both made the short list, but they only took four as one of the editors left. I didn't pay the extra for the feedback and was I ever kicking myself afterwards. That was one of the stupider decisions I've made in my life. I'm glad you've put down to get that. I hope you get in! It would be a fantastic experience.

  2. Good Luck! I applied to the Penguin Varuna residency earlier in the year and didn't make the long list, but they had well over 500 applicantions. Don't let that scare you, your novel is much tighter and well formed than mine, so I think you are in with a good chance! I'll have my fingers crossed for you, it would be such a fantastic opportunity.

  3. Tracey - I don't think I remember that, or maybe I didn't register the impressiveness of making the shortlist! Can't believe you didn't go the ms assessment...

    Nat - I didn't even know about the Penguin one - will look into that next year! (If this was specifically genre, I'd be feeling a tad more confident, but it aint... You should be applying too, you know. But hurry, must be postmarked 30 Sept!)

  4. I think it was a matter of tight finances, and someone telling me that fantasy was not Peter Bishop's forte. But Cat got the assessment, and I was really, really kicking myself that I didn't.