I had planned to write about Canada but this has leapfrogged into today’s post instead. I am GUTTED! Last year in October I entered the Asham Award, which is a short story award for unpublished women writers. The theme was ‘ghost or gothic’ and although I felt uninspired for a goodly amount of time, barely a week before the deadline creativity darkly drop-kicked into shape. I came up with a story, and it was sent out into the wilderness (description more apt for theme, I think, rather than sent to Kent.)
In December, around the time I was feeling extra gloomy, I got a letter – a golden ticket sort of letter – saying that my story was through to the shortlist. Cue jubilation in forms of skipping, hugging letter, grinning like a Cheshire cat, and seeing the world through a gorgeous rose tint.
I was very happy. It was only the second short story competition I had entered, so to be already on the shortlist felt like I was on the correct literary path, spotlights and cheerleaders (let’s make them male; let’s make them Colin Firth clones) pointing the way.
We were told the twelve winners would be informed in March, so I tried to cull my obsessive google clicking until then but it was rather hard... (Who is talking about the award? Who else is nominated? Who is the competition? What do they write like? Darn it! Who else is talking about the award? What do they say? Tell me, tell me... click, click, click.)
But now the obsessing can stop, as I’ve checked the Award’s website and the lucky winners have been announced... without me. Oh poop. Cue crash down in depressive slump, desire for biggest wrongest chocolate lunch ever, and seeing the world through grey gloop.
Still, there is a bright side... My story did make it to the shortlist, which is a fab achievement anyway, and something I can put on my writer CV (more of that another time). My story was read by wonderful authors like Sarah Waters (The Little Stranger) and Polly Samson (Out of the Picture), and Lennie Goodings (publisher of Virago) – for ten minutes they read my words – they were mine, all mine! I do now have a rather nice little story, which I can work upon to send elsewhere (as I think I know what can be improved). It was also a great boost to get through Christmas and that dreary time when you think nothing at all is happening in life the way you wish it would.
So all in all, I feel okay. It would have been brilliant to tell you my story had made it, but sharing the downs and disappointments is all part of the publishing journey. Gosh I sound so zen. I am now off to punch pillows.
PS – The line up and story titles for the Asham Award look fab, by the way, so if you are into ghostly gothic fiction do consider buying the anthology when it is released. Either check the Award website or the Virago website later this year for release information.