Celebrate Writing in the Leap Year.

We have this extra day! What shall we do with it? It’s Leap Year! Babies born today will only get to celebrate the true anniversary of their birth once every four years. It’s special. I woke up this morning thinking I should write something extraordinary: A scintillating chapter of my new novel, or a fantastic short story. For most of us it is another regular working day. A writing day. A Monday. In a way, it’s a shame no one gets today off. Such a rare day deserves more celebration than a mundane public or bank holiday.

After having set myself an ambitious writing goal for the 29th of February, I sat down with my cup of tea and stared at the screen. But the fiction didn’t flow miraculously out of my fingers. It simply didn’t happen this morning. Creativity is not something that authors can turn on or off at will. And I do mention the ‘off’ button, because once I’m on a writing roll, not even sleep can keep me from the driving need to spill ideas onto my computer screen.

This morning the main reason the ‘on’ button would not engage after I awoke, is the continued excitement of remembering that I am on a short list for a novel prize. I spend altogether too much time thinking about standing on the podium in St Stephen’s Church in Exeter on the 12th of March. It makes me want to get up and dance.

But even if I don’t take home that coveted award, I am still a winner. Being on the shortlist of six finalists in the Exeter Novel Prize is a dream come true. And it occupies my every waking moment, as I’m sure it does the other five finalists. My memory has transported me back to the words filling my first novel, my first literary baby. This could be the turning point in my writing career. I’m hoping it leads me down the golden road to publication. Someone has enough belief in my work to have placed me on that shortlist. I am naturally hoping that I win first prize, but meanwhile I’m basking in the delicious anticipation.

But I’m also realistic. I know how disappointing it is not to find oneself on the long or shortlist of a prestigious prize. I am aware how every agent rejection chips away at a writer’s self esteem, sowing the seeds of doubt about those preciously coveted words. So I am wholly ready to celebrate every literary success, however small.

You might think it’s premature of me to be celebrating when I have no idea who will lift that winning trophy in Exeter on the 12th of March, but I feel it is my right to rejoice a little now, in the event that the post ceremony anti-climax clouds my sense of achievement. It all started when I wrote a novel. Hey, I wrote a damn novel! As my partner never ceases to point out, that’s a triumph in itself.

My motto for today: Celebrate every little success. Whether it’s the first sentence after deciding to pen your memoir, or seeing someone else absorbed in your published novel on the train, celebrate every accomplished stage of your journey. You are a writer!