Thursday, 28 July 2011


Recently I submitted a short story to a competition. Do I expect to get anywhere? Not really and the outcome doesn’t matter. It would be nice of course but am I less of a writer if I'm unplaced? Not at all. Why do it then? One reason is for the goal of completing a story; deadlines help in building a body of work. The second is that the more I write, the more I increase my chances of becoming better at the craft. Maybe that is the more important reason. I'm no literary genius just a modest writer. My greatest asset is that I'm committed. I write a little every day because I have to. I don’t mean that I'm compelled by an external force. The drive to write is internal. That’s the way it’s been ever since I can remember; even when life isn’t going well. Some ten years ago I was ill. I could not speak because I was so short of breath. In fact, I was almost ready to say goodbye to the planet. But I kept a diary of those events. It’s how I process things. It’s what I needed to do to get through. That diary became my first non-fiction title 'Heart to Heart' 
It took years to get from my splotchy fountain-penned notes to the bookshelf. It was a combination of many polite rejections, taking on board feedback and persistence that got me there in the end. It would have been easy to give up. I'm too sick, too busy, too much in pain, too despondent. I chose to keep going. Unlike many writers, I can’t sit at a keyboard for hours. All my writing is done a few minutes at a time: a word, a paragraph a page. The deadline might be a competition closing date or the end of an A4 page. I love finishing a piece and sending it somewhere: to a comp, to my writing group, to a friend. There’s huge satisfaction in knowing that I got there. It makes me feel like a winner. The only competition I need to worry about is the one I'm having with myself. Don’t you give up either! It’s okay to award yourself first prize.