Writers are fond of saying our stories are like children: that each is equally loved, and when we send them out into the world, we hope each finds a happy home. But some stories will always feel more precious. I was thrilled recently when one of my favourites found a particularly appropriate home in The Mechanics’ Institute Review, a beautiful publication showcasing the best short stories from new voices around the UK. The MIR team will be hosting live reading events over the next few months, and have been working with the authors to help us practise. You can read more about the ‘Reading Allowed’ workshop on my blog.
Finding an audience for a short piece is a welcome boost in the long process of writing my novel, which still takes up much of my working life. I’m deep in editing and re-drafting, and when it all feels overwhelming I take comfort from the encouraging comments of novelist Elizabeth Buchan, when she awarded the opening chapters the 2014 Yeovil Literary Prize. It was also wonderful to be shortlisted for the inaugural Bridport Prize First Novel Award.
You can be intrigued by my work here.
The discipline of deadlines is enormously important to my writing motivation, and it’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence, as a reader for The Brighton Prize for short stories and flash fiction. Last year’s prize attracted a great response, and a real diversity of subjects and voices. It was wonderful to be part of the celebration at a candlelit reading at The Brunswick in Brighton in November, where we heard Paula Hunter (@hillsnspills) read her beautiful first-prize story ‘Wait’, and Haleh Agar (@HalehAgar) read her winning Flash piece ‘Jellyfish’. See the website for more details – and be inspired to enter the competition this year.
Reading for the prize is a humbling reminder of the amount of work for all involved in running a competition. As a result, I’ve vowed to atone for past sins by in future pressing ‘Send’ before 11.59 pm…