Crossing The Tees Short Story Award
I don’t write a lot of short stories. I had a brief spell of writing some when I first became a full time writer three years ago, some of which can be found on my website, but it’s never been a passion of mine.
As it’s my job, I feel like I should be spending my time writing novels and along with procrastination, this is where the majority of my day goes.
I’ve recently dabbled in plays and had a little bit of success so this is something I will explore further but short stories have never floated my boat.
I’m also a little suspicious of writing competitions. There are a few well known prestigious ones such as the Bath Novel Award and the Northern Writers Awards but there are many others that exist for little other than to scam hopeful writers.
With this in mind, you may be a little surprised to find me entering the 2018 Crossing The Tees Short Story Award.
I’m not going to lie, one of the main factors in me entering was the lack of an entry fee. Not just in saving myself a few quid but if they aren’t charging for it, you have to assume that their intentions are good.
I was in the middle of editing Troll Life when this competition came about so didn’t really have the time or the focus to write something new so I searched in my back catalogue to see if there was anything I could use. There was only one that hit the spot, The Wicker Man.
One day when stuck for inspiration, I spent twenty minutes jotting down every idea that came into my head without censorship. It could be ideas for a novel, a character or even a sentence or phrase I liked. I managed 28 ideas in the twenty minutes. Most of them were unusable nonsense, three or four were coherent ideas that might be used at a later stage and one of them was ridiculous, the tale of a man who dressed as Alan Whicker and lived in a house made from wicker baskets.
I jokingly mentioned this on the Facebook page of the writing group I attend and was challenged by group founder, Iain Rowan, to write it. I thought he was mad but why not?
It probably took no more than a couple of hours and whilst not perfect, it had some humour, some intrigue, some twists and a little bit of tragedy. Not bad in just over a thousand words.
A few people read it and enjoyed it and it sat on my MacBook untouched for a couple of years until Crossing The Tees came about.
I tidied it up and made one crucial change, removing any explicit reference to Alan Whicker, and sent it off not expecting to hear anything until the rejection email pinged back my way.
I knew there were better short story writers than me entering so was even more surprised to find out that I had been shortlisted and invited to the awards night in Darlington Library in December.
My writing friend, Lisa Burns, had also been shortlisted so it was a double, albeit low key, celebration.
The short story award is part of the Crossing The Tees Book Festival and after being involved in the Sunderland Creative Writing Festival, I know how much work is involved in these things and they’d done a great job of setting up the library and welcoming the guests.
I had no expectations of making the top three so Lisa and I took our places at the back where we met fellow author Lisette Auton who was also shortlisted.
The winners were revealed (you may have guessed by now that I wasn’t one of them) but the judges wanted to mention a couple of stories that were highly commended. If I was surprised to enter, and more surprised to be shortlisted, you can imagine how surprised I was to be highly commended.
We got our group photo taken and collected our free copy of the anthology, published by Sixth Element, that we now appear in. I’ve read a couple of the stories in there and the standard is really quite high so, you’ve guessed it, I’m still a little surprised at my inclusion.
There’s probably a lesson in here somewhere, you can work that out for yourselves, but this week I’ve sent off an entry to another short story competition.
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