Friday, 29 April 2016
So, having for a long time avoided writing competitions like the plague, I thought I'd have a go. I wanted a new challenge and the Crime Writers' Association is a very reputable body. The Margery Allingham competition has an excellent brief which is to pen a mystery in 3,500 words. Simple, straightforward and wide enough to afford many possibilities. I had entered only a handful of other competitions. They're often designed to promote a particular product or place. One I entered promoted a magazine in Kent. It was a shorter length which can be more challenging, and had to feature a Kent landmark. Another asked for a story in 500 words about the Northern Lights. Narrow challenges like that are all very well but if you don't win the comp, are difficult to place elsewhere. So, with a nice 'loose' brief I decided to enter and... was delighted to receive the e-mail telling me I was one of 12 in the longlist. I was actually longlisted last year, but they didn't put it on their website so I didn't trumpet it to the world. This year they have and here is the link to it. Writing competitions are a mixed blessing. They are time consuming, most charge a small fee, and it's difficult to know exactly what they're looking for if they don't print much in the way of winning entries. The upside is that you can turn the germ of an idea that has been knocking around in your subconscious into something real even if it isn't something you could find a home for elsewhere. I'm sure I couldn't for example have placed my story in a women's magazine. I enjoyed writing it though and I now have a finished product. Even if it doesn't win, I am at present reworking it to form a chapter of the current novel I'm writing. I'd always envisaged that, as I was writing it, anyway. Being shortlisted has given me the confidence that it might just have legs and that it might possibly run as a longer work. I'd have my fingers crossed if it didn't stop me typing!