Friday 31 December 2010

Looking backwards, looking forwards, trying not to get dizzy...

So that, pretty much, was 2010. A mixed bag, as with every other year I've experienced.

Hmm... I'm not sure I can sustain that level of insight. Okay, let's think in terms of landmarks. It's been a good year in many ways. Near the beginning, I won a big prize with a short story that I think is one of the best things I've ever written. I got another story into a national writing magazine. Other stories picked up shortlistings and second and third placings in various competitions. I made a reasonable amount of progress on my novel. This blog has been quite successful, in terms of the modest aims I had regarding it, and I've enjoyed writing it.

On the downside, I still haven't received all the cash from that big competition. Many stories in which I had a lot of faith sank without trace in competitions, or got knocked back from magazines that I dared to think were dead certs. Some of my successes have cast doubt on exactly what type of writer I am - for instance, I still haven't had a single science fiction story accepted, despite starting the year pretty much thinking of myself as a SF writer.

On the whole, though, the positives outweigh the negatives, which is good. Next year is already looking promising - I have a couple of stories coming out in printed magazines/anthologies, I'm running a short-story workshop as part of the first-ever Guernsey Literature Festival (I was planning to do a full post on this news, but I didn't get the opportunity), and there are a few interesting-looking competitions on their way. For me, the 2011 Bridport Prize is unmissable, as A L Kennedy is judging it and she's one of my favourite writers. Plus the Bristol Prize seems to be going from strength to strength - the prize money is doubled compared to last year, and from the sounds of things it's a very slick operation that deserves to do well. So, yes, onwards and upwards. Hopefully.

Considering the general competition-y focus of this blog, I'd like to announce the inaugural Lies, Ink Awards. This is a way for me to publicly applaud and recommend competitions of which I have personal experience and that have proved to be well run. I make no excuse for the fact that these are biased - after all, I'm not qualified to advise on how prizes are handled in competitions where I haven't actually won anything.

Gold Awards go to TxtLit and Catherine Howard. Linda Lewis (the writer behind the Catherine Howard competitions) gets the winners' cheques in the post within a couple of days and when I asked her to revise the synopsis of my ghost story that came third in her recent competition, she took care of it straight away. TxtLit cheques turn up within a month of the story going live on their website and when I queried a problem with the submission process the admin people there couldn't have been more helpful. Keep up the good work, folks!

Silver Awards go to Writers' Forum and The H.E. Bates competition. Writers' Forum is a great place to get published and the prize money is very good, but they just miss out on top honours because once I found out my story was shortlisted it fell into an odd two-month vacuum during which I had no idea whether or not it was likely to go any further. I didn't know which issue it was being considered for, or when they were going to make the decision. Although I didn't win anything in the H.E. Bates competition, the people running it were very helpful and I like the fact that despite it being a fairly 'small' competition they still have an awards ceremony.

Sadly, there's a Wooden Spoon to hand out as well. But I'll leave that for another time.

In the meantime, Happy New Year, everyone. See you in 2011!


Nik Perring said...

Happy new year, Dan - and all the best for 2011 - for writing and everything else.

Dan Purdue said...

Thanks, Nik! Best of luck for a happy, healthy and successful 2011 to you, too.

Chloe said...

It sounds like you had quite a good year in many ways. I hope you have an even better 2011!

It is encouraging to see I am not the only one who can crash and burn on the stories I have had most confidence with and then be surprised by the success of others. Success will, I think always remain a mystery to me.

I like that two things you've won have gold awards! I have found txtlit very helpful too. I am also intrigued as to the Wooden Spoon...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan

I didn't realise you had a blog until I looked on the txtlit website to see if I'd won anything and there you were. How bizarre!

The blog looks great. I've written down a couple of the competition details so thanks for those.

See you at the writing class tomorrow.

Dan Purdue said...

Hi Chloe,

Thanks! Yes, I think on balance it's been a year of new achievements and general progress in terms of writing. My fingers are crossed for 2011. I'd like to keep the momentum going, although I'm not 100% sure what direction I want to be heading in just yet. And Happy New Year to you, too.

I accept that my 'awards' are skewed in favour of things I've done well in, but I think it's important to give a thumbs-up to competitions that treat their entrants professionally. To that end I've picked competitions in which I've experienced the whole process and felt that they've done it well.

Hi Clare,

Haha, my secret's out - although I have a feeling some other class members might drift by here once in a while...

Glad to hear the competitions page might be useful - the best of luck with any you enter.

See you back in real life tomorrow!