Coincidence is a strange thing. Just two days ago I downloaded an Anita Shreve novel on my kindle and started reading it for no reason other than that I saw the title and suspected I hadn’t read it. Over the years, I’ve greatly enjoyed a number of Anita’s books so when casting around for ‘a good read’, this seemed a failsafe choice.
So, I’m currently enjoying The Lives of Stella Bain.
I was astonished and saddened to read today that Anita died two days ago – too young these days at only 71. An obituary piece is here in the Boston Globe.
The sad thing about the death of writers you like and admire – Helen Dunmore being another – is that somehow you expected that they would always be there, writing away, crafting more for you to appreciate and enjoy – forever…
Now, too late, one can only appreciate what they contributed throughout their life and thank them for doing so.
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?