Playing, Not Writing!

Helen at Laser Combat‘Scuse my silence. I’ve been away for a few days at Center Parcs, shooting down rapids and doing a bit of ‘laser combat’, as you do.

I turned out to be surprisingly good at laser combat. I was amongst the last 2 survivors in three of the four games we played. BUT the secret of my success was.. to hide (from children, mostly)! So it was sheer cowardice, not any skill, that made me an almost-winner. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere!

So, I’ve been having fun but my February has not got off to a good start, writing-wise and people like Tracy Fells, who has reported her January ‘stats’ here, are putting me to shame! Got to pull my socks up now.

Here’s something that I might try and you might be interested in too…

Stratford Literary Festival – Writing Competition

One of my local literary festivals, in Stratford-upon-Avon from 21st April to 5th May, has just announced a writing competition, which is open to anyone, anywhere (ah, that’s the kind we like).

It’s free to enter, first prize for the adult section is £100 and the closing date is 15th March (at 4pm). The title, for either a poem (max 600 words) or a short story (max 2000 words) is ‘Different Worlds’

Just a little word of ‘warning’: the organisers will be putting together a ‘Festival Book’ which ‘will contain the winners’. Although it’s not clear for 2013, in the past, this has included some of the commended entries as well as the winners in each category and, if you wanted to see your work in print, you needed to buy your own copy of the book (for about £7). I’ll try to find out if they’re doing that again this year but I thought it was only fair to alert you!

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20 Responses to Playing, Not Writing!

  1. PhilippaB says:

    Sounds like fun, and playing is after all a highly important part of the creative process! I’m trying to crawl out from under the avalance of work that’s come in since Christmas and find a little writing space…I did come up (finally) with an idea for the Country Life comp when out jogging on Sunday so that’s something…Thanks for another comp pointer Helen, what would we do without you? 🙂

    • Philippa, I have also managed to dredge up an idea for the Country Life competition and am frantically trying to write it BUT it’s all gone a bit ‘rude’! I think it’s funny but I don’t think it’s really ‘Country Life’ material, which is a real shame. This is why they call it ‘killing your darlings’ – I think I’m going to have to scrap most of it. It’s going to break my heart!

      • Philippa says:

        You’ll have to put it by for another, “ruder” competition rather than lose it altogether…it’s true that the Country Life element is quite restricting, I don’t think my story (if I manage to write it) is suitable material either, really, but it’s good to use the competition deadline to get motivated…

  2. P Douglas Hammond says:

    Thanks for that bit of information; I have a story of about that length and almost exactly that title. I think I’ll have a go.

  3. Wendy Clarke says:

    Hi Helen, nice to see you back. I am always a little wary of competitions where ‘runners up’ are included in an anthology. As far as I can make out, not only do you have to pay to see your story in print but it also means that your work has been ‘published’ and therefore stops it being elegible for submission in most other competitions. (This has happened to me). I’d be happy for other readers to correct me if I’m wrong about this.

    • Wendy, you’re right. There’s no entry fee for this competition but yes, you would have to buy the anthology, if you wanted to see your work in print, which seems a little unfair! I have queried this with the organisers in the past but they didn’t seem to see it as a problem! I suppose some people are just happy to be ‘published’ and don’t mind buying the book. I think the least they can do is give a free copy of the book to anyone who’s published in it! I will suggest that to them, but don’t hold your breath… I suspect the ‘Festival Book’ is a bit of a money-spinner for them! Must admit, I was in it a couple of years ago (runner-up in the poetry competition) and although I won a £25 book voucher, I didn’t actually buy the book so I’ve never seen my poem in print!

      • Wendy Clarke says:

        Me too! ~ I was so insenced that I had to pay to see my runner up story in print (after I’d paid to enter!) that I didn’t buy the anthology.

      • Jenny Roman says:

        Is it a con or merely a sign of the (economic) times? In ye olden days when I had a story published in a (fee paying) magazine, I usually got a free contributor’s copy. Now more often than not I don’t. If I want to see my story in print (which of course I do) I have to buy a copy. Sad, but that’s modern life I guess.

  4. Jenny Roman says:

    Thanks Helen – a FREE writing competition – there’s a rare thing these day! Definitely have to give it a go. 🙂

  5. Tracy Fells says:

    Thanks for the mention Helen 🙂 Bit jealous to hear you’ve just come back from Centre Parcs – we used to go every year and loved it, but haven’t been since I stopped earning money and became a writer (only joking). Hope you cycled everywhere! Will check out the Stratford comp, though not sure about comps where the title is given for you…

  6. Thanks for the info, and I too must pull socks, tights and hold-ups up. Not all at once of course.

  7. Linda says:

    shooting down rapids and doing a bit of ‘laser combat’
    Can we expect your next story to be a futuristic thriller?
    I think I would have been hiding too! Pleased you enjoyed it.

    • Linda, my annual CP trip is the only time I get a bit adventurous! The laser combat thing was soo embarrassing. Everyone who was ‘out’ (most people) was watching me and the one or two other people who were ‘still standing’ and they could see that I was totally useless and couldn’t even fire my gun in the right direction! I shot at someone about 20 times and still didn’t hit them! Never again! (also, from crouching down so much, my legs killed me for 2 days after!). I am not a natural born killer. Thankfully.

  8. Tracy Fells says:

    Helen, I’m just about to post my entry for Country Life comp but wanted to point out some restrictions. They don’t advertise their rules but if you read the comments it becomes clear that if Country Life select and publish your story then they take all rights – only if it is published.

    • Tracy Thanks for pointing this out. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. If my story were to be the winner, I’d be quite happy with publication and 500 (I’ve given up stories for a lot less than that!! Best magazine, for example, who published my runners-up story and gave me NOTHING!). What, after all, would I do with that particular 1500 word story, if I retained the ‘rights’ to it, once it’s been published? I couldn’t enter it for another competition and no magazine would buy it as it’s already been published. I know some writers hate the idea of giving up their copyright in a story – and I certainly wouldn’t do it for something longer – but in this case, I don’t see that it’s a problem. But, please, if anyone disagrees, speak up!!


      • Tracy Fells says:

        Agree on this one Helen as prize is a good amount, but worth looking out for on other competitions, which may not be so valuable. And there are some competitions out there (though rare) which do accept previously published material.

      • Philippa says:

        On the one hand, there is a decent reward for giving up copyright, but on the other hand, what if you wanted to use it, say, in a future collection of your stories? I’m not very keen on the idea of giving up copyright, for any artistic creation. But I can also see that a magazine would want to avoid a winning story being splashed around all over the place at the same time as they published it. Maybe the ideal solution would be for the magazine to have exclusive rights to the story for a limited time – I seem to have seen similar sorts of conditions set out in other comps.

      • Yes, that sounds like a reasonable compromise, Philippa. I would have thought though, if you’d asked them nicely – and if a bit of time had elapsed – if you could publish your story in a collection (particularly if you put “first published in Country Life magazine 2013”, for example), most competition organisers would say yes – wouldn’t they? Because what else are they going to do with the story themselves?!

        Agree with you both though – it’s worth being aware of and wary of, in some cases!


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