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How Artist Trust’s EDGE Program for Writers Enabled a Publisher to Trip Over My Manuscript

Harold Taw

Artist Trust Grant Recipient & EDGE Professional Development Program Graduate

Harold at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma).

    The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over;
    thus the wise say the path to enlightenment is hard.

      —Katha Upanishad

The path to enlightenment may be hard, but it’s a Slip ‘n Slide over the lawn on a hot summer day compared to getting a debut, literary novel published in the era of dying publishing houses, vanishing independent bookstores, and bloodsucking, teen-vampire romances.

Being still among the living to witness my novel wobble off on its own two legs might not have been possible had I not been a member of the inaugural EDGE Professional Development Program for Writers. Allow me to elaborate. The EDGE Program provides artists with the entrepreneurial know-how and the peer network to make their passions sustainable ones. It’s a boot-camp for those with well-defined artistic chops who all-too-frequently drag around a flabby caboose of marketing talents. EDGE helps artists to thrive, both artistically and professionally.

I participated in EDGE during the third trimester of my wife’s pregnancy. Our twins were born three days before the program’s final presentations. For many months I had precious little time to sleep or to shower, let alone to write and to sell my writing. Yet my manuscript found its way to my publisher during this crazy period. In lieu of being able to work on my second novel at this time, I wrote Dog Park, a screenplay that has garnered recognition in seven film festivals and competitions-all because I tried to live what I’d learned during EDGE: lessons on time-management, risk-taking, the creation of polished presentations.

The only reason I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest at 3:00am while bottle-feeding our children on bouncy chairs was because I’d already written a synopsis and author’s bio during the EDGE Program. Even in a bleary state, I looked for ways my manuscript could find its audience. When it sailed through the quarterfinals with rave reviews, I felt like a proud parent at a piano recital; when it got slammed in the semifinals-excoriated, obliterated, in a solitary, cruel review—I recalled the advice imparted by nearly every instructor at EDGE: if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not putting yourself out there enough. Only through this crucible did my novel find a home.

If readers are given the opportunity to plunge into the worlds being created every day by EDGE graduates—prose, poetry, and performance art spanning continents and kitchens, exploring slavery and awkward silences—I know that happy accidents will become commonplace.

Thank you Artist Trust supporters.

Harold Taw

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