To celebrate my recent 50th birthday, I want to give something back. I’ve enjoyed some glorious writing moments during my forties, but I’ve never forgotten how long it took to achieve my dream of a book deal in 2015, aged 44. Before that, I entered every writing competition I saw, followed numerous authors and listened to their advice, endured rejection after rejection, posted my work in writing groups for critique, and worked and worked and worked on my craft. So I’d love to reward another writer in some tiny way.
My short story competition is open to absolutely anyone at all; experienced writers, new writers, young, old, any gender, anyone. The prize is £50 (to fit in with turning 50 – plus I’m skint and can’t afford much more) and I’ll share your story here on my website too.
The story should be no more than 2050 words (see what I did there, adding a 50) simply because it’ll only be little old me reading them. It can be on any theme or topic. It should be a Word doc, please. To make it fair, I want it to be anonymous so please don’t put your name in either the document or the email. So, just send the story to me, attached as a Word doc, with the title in the subject line, nothing else. Competition closes 1st December 2020. Within a week or two, I’ll choose the winner, based simply on the story I most enjoy, and contact you. Here’s the email to send it to: Louise.firstname.lastname@example.org
Writers often apologise when they share glowing newspaper reviews or a reader’s praise of their books. I often see them saying that it feels like ‘bad form’ or that it seems somehow vain to retweet positive blog posts. They admit that they feel they are perhaps supposed to – in order to be visible, to promote their work – but that it feels cheap. Some have said that it maybe doesn’t count if it comes from them. They seem embarrassed, like they’ve committed some grave error or sin.
And that makes me sad.
I always share the positive reviews that I’m tagged in. I also share ones that I’ve read if they touched me. I never apologise. I’m not humble about it. I retweet or share or post a link without shame, without apology, without regret.
It took me ten years to get a book deal. It took me four novels and thousands of rejections to finally see my debut in print. I spent between three months and a year writing each of my so far nine books. I lived and breathed the characters for the whole of that time. I didn’t sleep when a plot had me in tangles. I scribbled notes in the dark when a poetic paragraph came to me. I sweated over every word I wrote; I tightened each sentence, deleted entire pages and rewrote them better, then edited again and again and again. I took on critiques from beta readers and tightened each novel further. I edited again for my publisher. Then again. Then again. I gave my full heart and time and effort to the process each time.
I loved every moment. I made my book the best I hoped it could be.
So, I don’t think it’s wrong or vain or embarrassing to share any praise that happens when my book finally goes into the world. I think it’s fine not to share if you don’t want to, but if you are going to, be glorious in it. Be proud. Be loud. Joyful. You deserve to be. I am. I will not crawl quietly into the shadows. I’m grateful for every review. For every kind message. To each and every blogger and reader. They took the time to review my book and I want them to know how grateful I am.
I love seeing other writers share theirs.
Please, dear writers, be loud and joyful with yours too. Nothing makes me happier. You earned it.