Now listen ‘ere, you lot, he says with a conspiratorial tap of the nose. On checking my site stats (which I do from time to time – oh all right, every day), I’ve noticed that an awful lot of new people have found this site either by a direct link from this post on Teresa Stenson’s blog or by Googling variations on a theme of “Bridport Shortlist 2010” (see the last post but one for the reason behind this).
Now this is all very nice – and a big “Hi!” to everyone, by the way (do have a look around whilst you’re here) – but I find the scale of it a bit surprising and ever so slightly worrying. I know that the Bridport is – for obvious reasons – pretty much THE writing competition (at least for those of us without an established track record), so it’s inevitable that an awful lot of writers start getting very twitchy at this time of year (I know, I’ve done it myself). But there are other ones out there that are just as deserving of your support, ones in which we all stand a much better chance of being in the money.
So whilst any short story writer or poet worth their salt should most definitely be sending their best work Dorsetwards every year, those of us who are looking to build up a track record should also be going in for as many of the second- and third-tier competitions as we can manage as well. If you’re wondering how on earth you can get enough material together to do this, I strongly recommend checking out competitions like the Slingink Scribbling Slam (running at this very moment) or the Whittaker Prize (which usually starts in March). There’s no better way of forcing yourself to come up with stuff, trust me. And if you need to know what competitions there are accepting entries at any time, the lovely Sally Quilford has done all the work for you: here’s her calendar.
Apologies if this came over as (a) a bit of a rant or (b) teaching Grandma to suck eggs. But when a perfectly respectable, if slightly low-key competition such as this year’s Slingink Prize fails to get enough entries to cover its costs, you have to wonder if we writers are sometimes being a bit too picky. I’d be interested to hear what anyone else thinks about this.