As a lonnnnggggggggg-time subscriber to Writing Magazine/Writers’ News, I’ve been mightily frustrated over the decades by the fact that, despite my best efforts, I’ve failed – yes, failed – to win a prize in any of their competitions. Okay, I’ve been short-listed (a whole three or four times), but other than that, zilch. (To be fair to them, I’ve by no means entered all their competitions.)
Anyway, the attitude I’d adopted was that sometimes, you just have to accept that your face – or your writing style – doesn’t fit. Certainly, some months, reading the winning submissions I could see quite clearly why mine had missed out, but other times, well…
So, you could have slapped me with a wet haddock a few weeks ago when I received an email telling me that I’d come second in their 500 word short story competition – particularly as I recall thinking at the time of entering, “I don’t know why I’m bothering…”
Of course, I’m delighted, it’s great to see it in print (out this week!) and winning anything is always hugely encouraging. But actually, what really impressed me, having come second, was the attitude of the guy who came first (Dominic Bell). Apparently, so he says, he tries to enter almost all the Writing Magazine competitions to diversify his writing and actually finish something. This is his third win, with three other placings.
Lesson to be learned there?
I’m delighted to have one of my stories – In the Frame – included in Paws for Thought, an anthology of 27 short stories collected together to raise money for the RSPCA. Available now on Amazon.
Many thanks to Keith Boothroyd for organizing this initiative.
A collection of thirty-two of my short stories has now been published as a collection: Instructions for Living. The stories have all been selected from those which have either won prizes or been short- or long-listed in creative writing competitions in the UK and internationally.
The book’s available as either a paperback or a kindle version on Amazon and also as a paperback on FeedaRead. If anyone a) buys and reads it and b) likes it, I’d really appreciate it if you took the trouble to leave a review! Many thanks.
I’m really pleased to be amongst the longlisters in Chris Fielden’s To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition. I really appreciate the work Chris does to help and encourage other writers and love the fact that this is a competition for humorous short stories – probably the hardest of all to write, but wouldn’t it be great if there were more of them?
The competition continues to grow in popularity year on year; I’m already starting to think about next year’s entry…
By the way, Chris’s book: How to Write a Short Story, Get Published and Make Money is well worth a read. Helpfully, you can order a free taster PDF from his website – a great idea when there are so many ‘how to’ writing books about.
I’m delighted to have a story, Lift Off, included in the newly publishd Gascogny Writers’ Anthology. It’s a sweet little book with a fabulous cover.
Many thanks to the organisers of the publication, it’s always very rewarding to see your work in print.
This article Mistakes Writers Make When Submitting to Literary Magazines published on the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio site and republished from Carve magazine is a great reminder of all the things we know, but somehow, sometimes, choose to overlook.
The physical things – follow the guidelines, keep track of submissions, do your research, etc, are all useful stuff, but the one point that I found really worth remembering is:
Taking rejections too personally and not submitting enough
Even the most brilliant stories will get rejected, and as a writer, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will get (many) more no’s than yes’s. Sometimes your story may not be right for a particular issue, or may not connect with a particular editor. Don’t let the rejections get you down. In many ways, this is a numbers game, and the goal is to get the right piece to the right journal at the right time. That’s hard to do, and chances are it’s going to take a lot of submissions before you get an acceptance.
Oh yes! Intellectually I know that this is absolutely true. So why does every rejection bring forth the thought: Well, I don’t know why I’m bothering – I may as well stop right now…?
Interviewed recently in the Sunday Times, Anne Tyler responded to criticisms that not enough happens in her books. She commented:
“I have noticed as a woman writer … that an event like war is considered a more real literary subject than just a wedding. I feel so sort of ‘Oh, I’m so sorry I haven’t been to war.’ Then I think, no. What motivates me when I’m writing is that I’m actually awed over and over again just by the fact that people manage to endure. Just that. They have nothing particularly to look forward to, and some of them have really hard and humdrum lives, and they go along.
I mean, it’s a miracle, if you think about it – that we’re all putting one foot in front of another is a miracle. To walk down the street and practically every person walking towards me, for instance, has had a huge loss. You know? I’m just so interested that it’s possible.”
Thank you Anne for some of the most cheering and motivating words I’ve read in a long while.
Last week I was delighted to be invited to a presentation evening in Bridgend where my story, Edna and Goliath had won first prize in the Bridgend Writers’ Circle annual open competition.
The group meet in the old Public Library building where the event was held. It was a delightful occasion attended by the mayor and also Jo Derrick, this year’s competition judge.
Meeting the group’s members underlined for me how much we aspiring writers owe to writers’ circles such as this – without their efforts there would be few competitions to enter and thus, little stimulus to keep writing and striving to improve.
Huge thanks to Bridgend and numerous others like them
I am delighted that my story The Absence of Something received a commendation in the 2015 short story competition and is included in the book.
I’ve only just caught up with The Daily Telegraph’s list of the 60 greatest female singer-songwriters of all time (well, if they will publish in December when there’s so much else going on…) There’s nothing like a list for stirring up controversy but this time, with Joni Mitchell headlining and Kate Bush in second place, there’s not much for me to argue with.
Okay, on my list, Joan Armatrading would have been number 3 with Tracey Chapman, Sade and KT Tunstall ranked much, much higher than they are. But that’s nitpicking
Just reading down the names, I’m reminded of how all these women have said something so important, so memorable, so gut-wrenchingly appropriate about what it is like to be female that any one of them deserves a place in literary, as well as musical, history. These women are the poets of our time and if ever I came to write an autobiography, every bit of it could be framed within their phrasing.
By the way, I’m blown away to see that this March in my old hometown (Wellington, New Zealand) Joni Mitchell songs feature in what sounds like a fabulous homage: Both Sides Now – part of the 2016 New Zealand Festival.