Today I was emailed a press release from the Scottish Book Trust saying applications for the New Writers Awards 2011/12 are now open.

Which is just as well, because I’d forgotten all about it even though it’s something I should almost certainly apply for.

The New Writers Awards scheme was started up by Scottish Book Trust and Creative Scotland in 2008 with the aim of providing 8 unpublished writers with the financial support to let them concentrate on their work for a bit.  Each recipient gets a cash award of £2,000 and nine months working with a professional mentor, which is very exciting and potentially life changing.

Applicants must be over 18 and based in Scotland.  You can’t have published a novel, short story collection or poetry collection, and you need to be able to demonstrate a strong commitment to developing a career in writing.

Now, in order to demonstrate this commitment, the application form suggests you get a reference from someone who knows your work – they suggest a writer, creative writing tutor, theatre director, critic, publisher, editor or literary agent.  So far, so not something I have.  However there is a line saying, “applicants unable to provide a statement from a referee” – like yours truly –  “must demonstrate a commitment to a career in writing.”

I think the whole writing 12 books in a year thing demonstrates commitment, but there again part of me worries that professionals might think I’m somehow undermining the amount of work that should go into the writing process, or even think I’m taking the mick.  That is not what I’m trying to do at all, but I know that I can be a bit glib at times so I’m now a little bit concerned.

Most of my brain informs me this is silly, because I know I’ve been pursuing the writing-for-a-living goal for over a decade and I’ve pure telt loads of people by the way.  But sometimes paranoia and self doubt set in and I think it’d be nice to have someone in my corner.

So, on the off chance there are any regular readers out there who happen to be critics, editors or literary agents please feel free to make yourselves known.  After the number of excerpts and ramblings I’ve posted here over the past nine months you’re pretty familiar with my work, and if you feel you can get behind it please tell me!

Entries will be judged by a panel consisting of writer Andrew Crumey, poet Gerry Cambridge, Emma Turnbull (who is Development Officer at Creative Scotland) and Caitrin Armstrong (Writer Development Manager at the Scottish Book Trust).

If the scheme sounds like something you would be interested in, you can find out more about how to apply here.  The deadline is noon on Thursday 24th November.

Good luck!