A bit less than a year ago, I ran into Stroud Short Stories competition on Twitter. I decided to have a go, found a 1500 ish word story somewhere at the back of my brain, sent it in and promptly forgot all about it. This is a protective tactic that comes from more years than I care to number sending stories, novels, poetry and articles to contests, magazines, publishers and websites. Like most authors I hear ‘no’, or I hear nothing far more often than it gets me anywhere.
Consequently I was quite surprised to find myself picked as one of the ten readers, reading on a dark night last October. I haven’t done much getting onto stages in recent years – Druid Camp of 2014, when I contributed a single song, was the first time I’d been on a stage singing, in years. I’d done a couple of talks in years previously to that, but had gone from being a confident and regular performer, speaker and ritual leader to being an anxious mess and not at all easy about stages. I’ve got a lot better over the last year, I’ve done a lot more stuff in public and I’ve had some much appreciated support. The Stroud Short Stories evening was a stepping stone on that journey, and it led to all manner of things.
During the competition, organiser John Holland kept saying that there never would be a published version of the selected stories. His version of what followed, and mine are radically different, especially around who talked whom into what and on what terms. The net result was that in January 2015 I started collecting and editing the 70 stories that had been read at previous events, plus the 10 that were read this April. Almost everyone said yes to being included. Over a busy few months I got to know some amazing local authors, a number of whom I’ve gone on to explore other creative possibilities with since. It’s been an epic journey.
There are usually two judges picking the ten stories to be read on the event evenings. When it turned out there could e a vacancy this autumn, John Holland asked me if I might consider doing it. (Give us six months and there will probably be some very different versions of how this happened as well.) I’ve never done anything like this before, so was delighted to say ‘yes’. It’s a wonderful community event, Stroud based, but open to writers in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.
I’m looking forward to it.
The contest is now accepting submissions, full details over at http://stroudshortstories.blogspot.co.uk/