The highlight of 2018 was, of course, the publication of ‘Esther Bligh’ in June, by Holland House Books… the highlight of my writing ‘career’, in fact! Hence, the novella’s centre place in the photo.
Beneath it are the other journals or anthologies my stories featured in last year. I’m proud of these, too, because I love the short story form, and it’s something I always return to. So it was great to appear in ‘The Dawntreader’, ‘Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology’, ‘The Cinnamon Review of Short Fiction’ and ‘Dream Catcher 37’. Thanks to those editors for liking my stories! And to them, the publishers, and fellow contributors for producing some excellent representations of the short form.
Otherwise, there were a number of readings, mainly of ‘Esther’ in a variety of venues, including the launch (best moment!), Tregwynt Manor, Llangwm Festival, and a Cinnamon reading in London.
It was a particular pleasure to take part in Penfro festival, as a writer, after several years as a visitor, or competition entrant (see my earlier blog on this).
All of these were greatly enjoyable and, again, I am grateful to all the organisers, with a special thank-you to Seaways Bookshop, Fishguard, for hosting my launch.
2018 also seemed to be a year for long-listing. I was long-listed for the Leicester Writes prize, the Yeovil prize, the Cinnamon Debut Fiction prize, as well as a bursary I applied to.
How one feels about long-listing often depends on the mood of the moment. If, as a writer, you are in one of those ‘dark’ places, when rejection follows rejection, and you are dissatisfied with your work, then being long-listed can feel rather like ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride.’ You may wonder why you are not making the jump up to being placed. Is there something not quite right with your work, which is putting judges off? Will you ever make it further?
But if you are in a positive state of mind, you can be thrilled to get long-listed, decide you must have written a good story – something that made it stand out from the crowd; it was merely a preference of the judge(s) that stopped it getting a prize. Quite often, being long-listed gets the story included in an anthology (as happened with the Leicester Competition), and this is always to be welcomed, helping to get you and your work out there.
And really, it is better to think this way, whichever mood you are in. As writers, we need all the positivity and encouragement we can get – even if it is from ourselves…