Developmental Shorts: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

I’ve just added another page to the Developmental Shorts menu, this time Beyond Reasonable Doubt, the winner of the 2014 Orwell Society Dystopian Short Story competition. The prize is a good one for students and is judged by some key figures in the academic world. The guide for the competition went somewhere along the lines of ‘write something that Orwell would have approved of’.

There are deliberate nods to 1984 throughout, including one I thought was really obvious but which no-one has spotted or yet commented upon.

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Focus, focus…

Earlier this week, I attended the last of this year’s Hampshire Writers’ Society (HWS) meeting. Whilst it was great seeing the books that had been published by member’s this year, it was – as ever – more interesting to listen to the guest speaker’s account of their process and life in writing.  This month it was Lady Antonia Fraser, author of a slew of histories and biographies as well as crime fiction. The discussion, an interview led by John Miller (another respected author) was well-guided and interesting, not least because it transpired that, like many writers, she loved books and knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age but had to struggled to have her vocation accepted.

What was most interesting, though, were insights into her process. Whilst she mentioned she had to have a schedule due to bringing up children, it was notable that she was very strict about the process: three hours, undisturbed, every day.  The key for her was undisturbed, no distractions, something that raised a flag in my mind as it connects with a whole load of experiences and scientific studies that have recently come to my attention.

There are a whole load of distractions from which a writer can suffer. There are two that Lady Fraser’s comments raised as being particularly interesting: noise and the so-called ‘writer’s block’.

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Organising a Short Story Competition

Well, whilst trying to recover from the MA submission, I took it easy and continued on another project: a local Short Story Competition. Things tumbled quite quickly, with a pair of excellent first-line judges leaping at the chance and a very well- known senior judge happily volunteering. The competition is not associated with any publisher and is tightly limited, but even before I began to publicise it I had half a dozen people talking to me about their entry.

Wonderful, and highly encouraging.

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Long time coming: What’s been cooking?

I’ve been focusing on the MA and Pain Management for the past few months so posts here have been scarce. However, there has been some success, a lot of work done (for me) and a lot in the pipeline. Without more ado….

What’s been Baked

An SF/Dystopian story has been longlisted for the James White Award, which was very nice, as I was wondering if I would be able to repeat the success I had with the Orwell Dystopian Fiction prize.  Given it had this success, I’m pushing the story elsewhere to see what happens. The Hampshire Writer’s Society at the University of Winchester has a large membership and meets monthly. They also run a themed competition each month. As I was able to attend the last meeting I thought I’d enter this month’s competition, for a story based in an exotic location.  With such a large membership (150-200) quality tends to be high, irrespective of the entries received (only 12 this time, I’m afraid) and I was still delighted to come out Highly Commended with the start of something I called ‘The Ochre Trail’. Further, delightfully, I won Faber’s weekly Quickfic flash fiction competition, adding to the success of previous BCU writers who have submitted and either won or become a runner-up. The story can be read on the Faber Academy’s news pages. The ending was particularly appreciated, something I try hard to achieve. Continue reading

Winner: 2014 Orwell Society Dystopian Short Story Competition

I received a pair of emails yesterday from the Orwell Society congratulating me on winning their 2014 Dystopian Fiction Short Story Competition. One was from Prof Richard Keeble, the Chairman, and the other a personal note from Richard Blair, the society’s Patron.  These will be treasured!

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Little bits at a time…

I was struck recently at how slow progress on First Drop was, but then realised that I’d been thrown by a number of other, smaller projects, restarting the MA (which takes me a lot of time) and playing about with Pregabalin.

On the upside, the projects have been useful and fun, ranging from writing (lots – and various), attending the local Marlborough Literary Festival (whilst the content of which was excellent, it was a show I found disability-hostile in the extreme, even being shouted at by one organiser who obviously didn’t give a monkeys about disabled people and stability on stairs), attending the monthly Hampshire Writer’s Society meetings at Winchester University (they have some really interesting guest speakers) and a Writing Group at Salisbury Library (Mondays, 10:15), and reading (also a fair bit, including attending a local reading group at Salisbury Library).

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