Ostensibly this has been a pretty good year so far, what with one thing and another. However, the curious thing is that this year I have only written three completely new stories, one of which was a mere 80 words long and scarcely counts. The reason for this is simple. I’ve been spending all of my creative energies, for better or worse, on Mrs Darcy. But if I am to take myself seriously as a short story writer as well (and I’ve never been one for the either/or mentality), I’m going to have to have some more material in the pipeline.

So last week I signed up for the Slingink Scribbling Slam, which is the new name for the old Eurofiction competition, which I took part in in 2007/8 and 2008/9 and which provided me with plenty of stuff to work with. For some reason, I’ve gone in for both fiction and poetry, which may turn out to be a mistake. But both the judges (Nik Perring and Mandy Pannett) are excellent writers that I have a huge amount of respect for and it seems too good to miss. If you fancy a go yourself, it’s not too late to register. Even if you get a low score in a round, you’ll still have written something, and it’s possible that the judges may have got it wrong. To name just one example, my BBC story, “The Amazing Arnolfini and His Wife” scored a measly 4 points out of a possible 20 when I wrote it for round 2 of Eurofiction 2007/8. But I wouldn’t have written it at all if it hadn’t have been for Eurofiction.

I’ve also gone and signed up for this year’s TWIWrite Zone, another imminent six-round competition but across different disciplines (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc. etc. – kind of a literary hexathlon) and over six weeks instead of twelve. I must be mad.

One last thing: Greg McQueen, who organised the recent “100 Stories for Haiti” project (which to my shame I failed to submit to, thinking I’d got nothing suitably optimistic to use) is now organising a similar anthology in aid of the Pakistan flood appeal. Details on Tania Hershman’s site here. I’ve actually sent in something this time, so if my name doesn’t appear on the list of contributors, for once it’s not through laziness. It’ll simply be because my effort was a bit pants.