My name is Helen and I’m addicted to quality stationery. There you go, I’ve admitted it publically. And one of my annual highlights is always starting a fresh diary (I know it’s sad). This year’s object of my affection is a lovely Writer’s Diary (thankfully my eldest son responded to repeated hints (I don’t do subtle) for a Xmas present I would actually use. The diary is produced by Mslexia and is packed full of ideas and info for women writers. On one of the first pages it has a Submissions section for you to record when and where you’ve sent your precious masterpieces. There’s nothing quite like pages of blank columns to make me feel under pressure. And as the publisher, Bloomsbury has dubbed 2012 as the year of the short story, I felt that I should get cracking and enter a short story competition.
I've not got a lot of experience of writing short stories and I know it’s not easy. With strict word limits you can’t afford to waste a single word. I’m in awe of writers who can pull off a powerful story succinctly. The ultimate in flash fiction, a short form of storytelling, has got to be Ernest Hemingway’s work of genius, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Wow! How can six words be so evocative? Maybe stunning examples like that are why I’ve avoided the genre, but it was time to face my fear.
I needed a theme and a deadline to motivate me. And I found it on a trip to visit the newly refurbished Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Hubby and I went as part of a festive trip to Auld Reekie. The gallery is a fantastic neo-gothic red sandstone building and has something to suit everyone’s taste whether you like traditional paintings of Scottish lairds or photographs of Glaswegian slums. It’s well worth a visit and it’s free entry! On the way out, I picked up a leaflet for a competition called, ‘Inspired? Get Writing!’ There’s still time to enter!
http://www.nationalgalleries.org/education/competitions I chose to write about a striking (and a bit scary) portrait of the acclaimed writer, committed feminist and social activist, Naomi Mitchison, painted by Percy Wyndham Lewis. She sounded like my kind of woman!
|A very clever lady but what a dour faced looking besom!|
I sent off my submission this week and felt quite smug at being able to make my first entry under the Submissions section of my new diary. Entering the competition has fired me up to enter as many as I can in the hope of being published. Read a lot, write a lot is my new mantra and the competitions will give me a goal and the chance to practise, practise, and practise my writing skills. The chances of winning are slim but as they say, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. Watch this space…