Undiscovered Voices Honorary Chair

Today, it was announced that I am Honorary Chair for this year's Undiscovered Voices anthology for 2020. 
If you haven't heard of it, the UV was a competition for aspiring children's authors launched by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators way back in 2006. It was the brainchild of my SCBWI pals Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor which has so far transformed the lives of many, many writers, including me. You can read the story of Undiscovered Voices here.
What's amazing is the whole thing is volunteer run. Volunteers organise the competition, recruit agents and publishers to participate, all under the sponsorship of Working Partners, the book packagers.
I won a place in the first anthology in 2008. After many years of rejection, it opened the door to becoming an author, and I will always be grateful. I am grateful to be asked to be Honorary Chair, but I also feel slightly like a fraud. I still feel like one of the aspiring.
I remember getting the phone call congratulating me on getting into the anthology. I was thrilled, wracked with doubt, floating with joy, all at the same time.
Though, today, my thoughts are also with those who didn't make it into the anthology. It has probably been a tough day ... so difficult to celebrate a friend on the list when your own dreams have been dashed.
Rejection and disappointment cast such long shadows. I remember how disabling it was to be told my story was "not right" for a list, or that an agent was "not that passionate" about my work. It really sucked. So ... guys, gnash those teeth, shed a tear, it sucks not to be on the longlist.
But you know what? You've done the two most valuable things an aspiring author can do:

1. Write your story.
2. Send it in.

Which took courage and self belief. The stuff it takes to become an author.

So BRAVO, to all Undiscovered Voices, longlisted or not. This is a worthy stepping stone on the long and rocky journey to publication. I wish you all courage and joy as you take the next steps.

May the best stories find you.

This piece might look familiar, if you follow me on Twitter. I am slowly reproducing my Twitter threads on my blog in the name of keeping a proper record. 

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