Lucy Vickery presents this week’s Competition
In Competition No. 2702 you were to invited to submit an imaginary example of an embarrassingly overblown author’s dedication or an extract from an equally nauseating acknowledgments page.
It seems that these days writing is a far from lonely pursuit and gratitude is routinely heaped by authors on battalions of helpers. But inspiration for the comp came from an era when emotional restraint was the norm in the shape of J.S. Mill’s fulsome dedication to his wife, which opens On Liberty:
…Were I but capable of interpreting to the world one half the great thoughts and noble feelings which are buried in her grave, I should be the medium of greater benefit than is ever likely to arise from anything I can write, unprompted and unassisted by her all but unrivalled wisdom.
Saintly spouses featured strongly in a large and entertaining entry. The winners earn £25; Basil Ransome-Davies nets £30.
Although my name stands alone on the title page, Mutely Weeps the Trellis would not exist without the inspirational love, support, loyalty and self-sacrifice of all the generous, charming and talented people who made sure I was never alone in reality. My darling late husband Jack, who spared precious time from his international golf empire to dry my tears when the words wouldn’t come; my kid sister Tiffany, whose celestial home-made low-cal taramasalata often restored my health and optimism; the members of the South Pasadena Ladies’ Writing Circle, invincible towers of empathy and strength; Montezuma, my cat, whose mystic aura lent spiritual depth to my creative energies; Dr Schmutziger, my therapist — I can truthfully say that in unlocking my subconscious he made possible a vision of personal completeness and artistic assurance that I would otherwise never have experienced; and of course Big Pedro (he knows why).
The legions of you who avidly read Don’t Sweat the Small Things and eagerly awaited this sequel, How I Conquered Self-Perfection, may dimly appreciate that such works, inimitable as they are, don’t spring forth whole, like Diana from the head of Zeus. Rather, you hold in your hands the afterbirth of a more challenging gestation—one which was in small part made possible through the well-meaning, if comically inept, efforts of many bumbling midwives. My thanks, then, to a succession of personal assistants too numerous to mention, to most of the barristas at Starbucks (memo to Dennis — just tap the mint!), to Cheeses-of-Nazareth for finally approximating the correct mustard-to-mayo ratio on my pear-and-gorgonzola delivery orders, and to Lance Caspar at Ghostsmith Press for both intuiting and interpreting my unspoken concept and vision, and for picking up the torch on those days when I just simply couldn’t be bothered.
OMG— so many people I want to thank! Everybody in the Cre-Wri workshop at UCG — Baz, Tadge, Jules, Ali, Fiz, Mik and Zee. All incredibly talented guys in their own right but when things started taking off for me they were amazingly supportive. And when I was in a really dark place for a while, Zee especially was a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel. At Beamup Books, Trish Pomeroy held my hand when I was lost and slapped my wrist when I acted like a loser. She is this book’s fairy godmother without a doubt.
Lovely Miss Bloomfield at Copthall Middle School wrote V.G! in the margin of my stories and set me off on my journey to creative fulfilment.
Finally, my partner Caz, my constant lifeline to the everyday world. And hug in waiting!
To all the above my gratitude is heartfelt and soul-deep.
No author since God himself has ever completed a masterpiece without in good conscience being required to acknowledge the contributions of those who facilitated his endeavour, but, had God needed help in creating heaven and earth, He could have started by creating my wife, Betty, and my amazing editor, Janice, who would have afforded Him all the inspiration and stylistic insight necessary to create the universe and to launch the Book of Genesis as the perennial bestseller it later became. Although my own modest novel took me somewhat longer than the six days that God so mercifully carved from His busy schedule, I feel that Betty and Janice have succeeded in infusing my work with equivalent divinity and moral scope. Had they done nothing more than select the glorious typeface, my debt to them could not be repaid before the Apocalypse.
Because I ended up publishing this book myself, I owe a debt of gratitude to an awful lot of people. A special thanks to Mum for her forbearance (I could not have done it without all those cups of tea!). A very special thanks to my neighbour Sheila for agreeing to be copy-editor-cum-book-designer-cum-marketing-executive. Ditto Dave, my agent and twin brother, a tower of strength (they don’t call you ‘Muscle Man’ for nothing, bro!). Multas gratias to all the fellow toilers of my writing class, especially our tutor Seamus (I know you’re all green with envy — but it’s a competitive game). Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the loan committee of my credit union, without whom this tome would not have been born.
Eternal thanks to Tasha, who sowed the seed and then fanned the flame; Fi, who set me on the road to Damascus and showed me that the end of the rainbow was in my heart; Marc-Antoine, who yearned for it; and Krystynne, who never stopped giving. Not forgetting my English teacher, Miss Willows: the semi-colons are for you, Windin! BC inspired me to believe I could make the world a better place and Debs (and L’Oreal!) taught me I was worth it. Mary-Beth was a safe harbour when my small boat of words was tossed on the cruel sea of publishing, Greville a sturdy lighthouse, warning me when there was danger and Samira — of course — was there at the finishing line. Lastly, thanks to Boo-Joo, just because. And — yay! — to my red Kabbalah band. Without it, and all of you, My Favourite Cupcake Recipes couldn’t have been written.
No. 2705 modern manners
You are invited to supply an updated version of John Betjeman’s ‘How to Get on in Society’ (16 lines max). Email entries, if possible, to email@example.com by midday on 13 July.