In a series of blogs, we asked former London Writers Awards awardees about their experience being part of the programme. These thoughts maybe particularly useful and interesting if you’re thinking of applying to the London Writers Awards for the 2022 cohort.
Why did you apply to the London Writers Awards?
Nilesha Chauvet, Commercial Fiction 2021:
“I applied to give myself the chance to become a professional writer and to be part of a diverse cohort of writing talent that I believed would one day go on to achieve great things. I felt I owed myself that. But more than anything, I wanted to improve my writing; to learn from the experience and to enjoy it, regardless of the outcome.
Having spent several years writing novels and short stories alone at night, never really discussing my work with anyone other than those I met in groups and classes, the prospect of being thrown into a phenomenally talented and diverse group, handpicked by Spread the Word, was too good to miss. For starters, you wouldn’t normally encounter that level of diversity with any other literary establishment. It makes for a dynamic and exciting environment for creativity to flourish. Also, I knew I was ready to make the transition to being Agented, and I knew Spread the Word – more than any other organisation, would help me get there. They have a systematic approach to development; striking the right balance between career and craft skills. Their success rate is phenomenal given that they’ve only been running for a few years. If it was going to happen for me, I knew it would be because of Spread the Word. I needed that final push, and that’s what they gave me.”
Tommy Rowlands, Literary Fiction 2021:
“I wanted to develop my writing in a way that seemed only possible through an MA or MFA program and wasn’t in a financial position to even contemplate that. Seeing that there was an award that would allow me the same rigorous development of my craft and with the added bonus of working alongside writers who, like me, were bringing an intersectional, dynamic perspective to their work, I just had to give it a go.”
Emma Lowther, Commercial Fiction 2021:
“I applied to the London Writers Award because I wanted to develop as a writer, take the next steps towards finishing my novel and enter the industry with confidence.”
Thomas Newlands, Literary Fiction 2021:
“The publishing industry is more competitive than ever, and as a disabled writer I knew support would be crucial as I navigated the process of writing and submitting my novel. I had only been writing seriously for a few months, but as soon as I came across the London Writers Awards I made it my goal to be involved! It looked like such an unbelievable opportunity in terms of the duration, the names involved, and the structured learning and support on offer.”
Tracey Weller, Commercial Fiction 2021:
“I applied to the London Writers’ Awards because I felt that I was ready to participate in the scheme. I had heard about London Writers Awards as an attendee at Kerry Hudson’s Breakthrough Festival, but was unsure if it was the right time for me in terms of what I was working on. One year later, I knew that it would provide the kind of support I needed to progress my work.”
Deshani Shan, Children’s / YA Fiction 2021:
“I applied to the London Writers Awards hoping to gain a better understanding of how the industry works and to find a group of fellow writers that I could develop with and form a feedback group with. I am pleased to say that both those boxes have been ticked and I have learned so much more about the craft of writing than I could have imagined.”
Megan Preston Elliot, Commercial Fiction 2021:
“I was embarking on my first attempt at a novel having written only short stories and poems before and was feeling quite overwhelmed! I wasn’t feeling overly confident in my writing at the time and wanted to apply to the scheme for the mentorship, masterclasses and critical feedback groups to help take my writing to the next level. I also find that having deadlines and structure really helps to motivate me, so I was attracted by the intensity and fast-paced nature of the scheme. In addition to all of this, I had no idea how I’d break into the publishing world after I’d finished the novel, or how I’d edit and redraft once the first draft was complete. I was also really happy to see a scheme that was committed to supporting underrepresented voices.”
Sadie Nott, Narrative Non-Fiction 2021:
“When I applied I think what appealed to me most was the prospect of being in a workshop with other narrative nonfiction writers, wanting to feel part of a writing community, and all the opportunities the programme gives for helping us to ultimately get our books published.”
Serena Rozana, YA / Children’s Fiction 2021:
“I applied to the London Writer Awards because I’d heard about how great they were when I attended the Take Flight Hub in 2020. I wanted to learn and understand more about the publishing industry as well as develop my craft and confidence.”
Lavendhri Arumugam, Narrative Non-Fiction 2021:
“I applied to the LWA because I’d hit a wall with my project. I had the sense that I needed to find community and structure to help me pick up momentum and keep going. The LWA was just the right programme for this. It not only created the structure I needed, but it recognised the challenges that many people like me face in the publishing industry. With inclusivity and diversity at the heart of its mandate, the programme felt like just the right fit. The LWA also selected an incredible cohort for me to workshop with. I imagine I will continue know these people for a long time to come.”
Published 1 October 2021