Over the last few weeks I’ve been nervously checking the website for the inaugural Bournemouth Short Story Competition (not to be confused with the Bournemouth Literary Festival competition, where I once had some success with erotica, God help me), watching for the results. Then last week the following rather disturbing notice appeared:
Due to the fantastic number of entries received, reading the short stories has taken longer than expected. Winners will be announced at the end of July.
So that’s me out, I thought. But I was wrong, because this morning I received an e-mail to tell me that my piece “The Problem with Pork” had picked up one of the runner-up prizes of £25, plus publication in the associated anthology. Woo hoo!
This is actually round about the second or third story that I ever wrote, back in the early 90’s, and (under its original name of “Meat”) it gave me my first-ever brush with success when it was highly commended in the 1993 Ian St James Awards (remember them?). At the time, I thought that anything short of a prize was a complete failure, so I didn’t take the message of encouragement from this that I really should have done, and not long afterwards I pretty much gave up writing short stories.
When I started writing fiction again, it was once more one of my earliest successes, getting longlisted in the 2007 Fish competition, and it’s really nice to see it finally winning something and getting published into the bargain. Especially as it’s not to everyone’s taste: I once submitted it to Whittaker judge Geoff Nelder‘s magazine, Escape Velocity, and he absolutely hated it. But, then again, the piece does centre around eating meat, and he is a vegan (what was I thinking of?). And, despite this, he did very kindly offer some helpful advice on the writing aspects which I used in the final edit before entering it for this particular competition.