Starting to Succeed

The very fact of this title was difficult to write. Acknowledging any form of success seems boastful, inappropriate. It’s a bit like singing. If you say you play the violin, the piano, it’s ok somehow, because the hours of practice are deemed part of it, you are a skilled technician, as well as an accomplished musician. Say you sing, and it’s a boast, a singling out. I am better than you because I can sing. You can substitute ‘writing’ for that. Probably because everyone (pretty much) can do it. Perhaps an email, a witty Tweet, whatever it is, we’ve all put pen to paper. So I didn’t want to call this post ‘success,’ because it sounded too presumptuous.

This summer I won a short story competition. It was fabulous. A cheque came in the post, a card, a beautiful picture of a waterfall; evidence that someone thought my writing was good. So far the money has had to go on bills, rather than the proper writing chair I promised myself, but this is what happens when you cut your hours in order to finish your first novel and get your writing out to a public in whatever way you can. But there it is, my name, next to the words ‘first prize.’

The second most thrilling bit was when they posted the judge’s comments on their website. Here, for the first time, someone who wasn’t my mother/friend/on my course saying something positive about my writing. Apparently I have ‘evocative poetic resonance.’ To be discussed in this abstract way, from someone I have never met, was a very special experience.

It feels like a start. A budding of something, no matter how small, that may yet flower into something bigger. And there are so many places to do it. Short story competitions (Try Creative Writing Ink for a huge list of those), Scriggler, Patreon (a very modern method of patronage), magazines, blogs, so many ways to take something you have created and share it with someone, anyone, who might find a spark of something hiding between your words. If you don’t do it, who will? Get your stuff out there, it’s worth it, trust me.

If you fancy a read of my story, it’s here.

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I'm a writer, teacher and drummer based in London. Short fiction and reviews are my main staples, along with some dabbling in novel writing.

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