The week didn't get off to the greatest of starts. The longlist for the latest Flash500 competition was posted online, and in no way features the story I'd sent in as part of my self-imposed effort to get myself submitting more fiction, the Ten-Four Challenge. That was disappointing. But, I still believe in the story and should be able to find somewhere else to try its luck.
I keep track of all my submissions, successes and 'near-misses' in an Excel spreadsheet, and when I went into it to update the Flash500 result, I noticed I hadn't scored out the story I tried in the Wells Festival of Literature Short Story Competition. I knew I hadn't won anything because the awards ceremony had come and gone a week or two previously, but out of curiosity I dialled up the site anyway. Much to my surprise, I found I'd come third!
At least, it seemed like I had. When I first looked, the results page had my story title, but the author was listed as "unknown". As you can see, the title isn't exactly commonplace, so I sent a cautious enquiry to the organisers. They got back to me incredibly quickly, confirming that all was well, I had won a prize and the cheque was already in the post. So that put a smile on my face.
And then the surprises kept coming... I picked up a copy of November's Writers' Forum yesterday. Iain Banks features on the cover, and yours truly makes an appearance, too. I posted some comments on Sally Quilford's competition blog, and several of them have been incorporated into her column. So there I am, suddenly sounding like an authority on competitions with restrictions on who can enter, e.g. women-only competitions, those limited to a certain geographical locations, etc. Are they necessary? Patronising? Discriminatory? What do you think?
Incidentally, the Ten-Four Challenge is up to four stories out, as I sent a flash piece sent to Every Day Fiction, with two months left of the year. I should hit five tomorrow, as I'm hoping to submit a story to the NAWG competition. It's a bit last-minute (the deadline's Monday), but it's worth a try. Just needs a final proofread...
Well done on that third place.
Some competitions with restrictions seem fair enough - it depends why the competition is being run. For example those encouraging children to write might be justified in setting an age restriction.
In most cases though, I can't see the point of particular restrictions and it does sometimes seem a bit patronising.
Well done, Dan! Wells has a pretty high standard of entry so your story must have rocked!
It's odd that they didn't contact you and had you as 'unknown' yet the cheque was on its way. What a great suprise though. Congratulations, hope you'll celebrate.
Thanks for the congratulations, everyone; much appreciated.
From the sounds of it, Teresa, it was just a case of my name being missed off the list that the organisers sent to the people who run their website for them. Which is still a little odd, but it's updated now and the shortlist has been added as well.
I think the stories will be made available too, at some point. I'll post a link here if/when that happens.
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