I previously mentioned on here that my short story ‘Maybe the Birds’ was shortlisted in the inaugural Short Fiction International Short Story Prize Wild Writing Prize – unfortunately I didn’t win but it’s all good. I’m really happy my work was shortlisted and that my story appeared to resonate with the competition readers, so thank you Short Fiction. It was lovely for my work to be recognised in this way, especially after years of struggling to write new stories.
Many congratulations to Claire Carroll who won with ‘Cephalopod’ and to the runners-up also. You can read ‘Cephalopod’ here as well as the winners and runners-up in the competition’s main prize. Congratulations also to the other shortlistees, in particular Elizabeth Baines whose story I had previously read as we are both part of Edge Hill University’s Narrative Research Group (NRG). I didn’t know Elizabeth had submitted for the competition until I saw the shortlist and recognised the title, so it was really nice to see another NRGer there. Well done, Elizabeth.
My own story is one that has been in gestation for a number of years. In fact, I first got the idea years ago – so long ago in fact that I can’t now remember fully what the spark for it was. Perhaps a workshop idea. I’m not sure. What I do remember is that I tried to write the story back then but couldn’t get going with it, so I left it. Until a few months ago that is, when I was watching my dog looking out of the patio doors, and then the first lines came to me (as they so often have previously – when I least expect it). It was then that I realised this was the start of ‘that’ story, and so the dog became part of it – even though he wasn’t in the original idea. As Stephen King says here, some ideas are like ‘a little piece of grit and it makes a pearl after a while’ – and so the grit of that initial idea became something more after a long time of waiting.
Even though I was deep into a creative writing PhD – and still am; due to submit my practice-based thesis this year – the urge to write the story was so strong once I had those first lines that I just had to break off for a week or so and write it. And that was that. Story done. It came out easily and fluidly and was a pure delight to write, which is so often not the case with creative work, which can be hard going at times and difficult to birth. But this is why I do it, for those times when it’s nourishing and inspiring and hard to turn away from. It’s probably the reason why we all do it, and why we all keep going, even when it’s tough and an effort, especially after suffering setbacks and yet more rejections.
But thank you, Short Fiction – I’m so thrilled you liked my story. Congratulations once more to the winners and runners-up. I look forward to reading your work. Now to try and send my little story out into the world so that other people can read it. And so I send it on its way, wishing it well as it ventures out once more.