Success Beyond the Comfort Zone!

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Back in the day after leaving University, I remember a horrible few months of fruitless job searching, laboriously completing complicated multi-page application forms for various graduate training schemes for which I didn’t really have a hope of being chosen, and failing even to get a job on the check-outs at our local supermarket (an all time career low, it has to be said). Then late one evening, I discovered a form I’d forgotten about, lost in the detritus of my cluttered desk. It was for a lowly role in a large, prestigious organisation. If I was going to apply for the job, the application would have to go in the post the following day to have any chance of making the deadline. I almost didn’t bother, but in the end I just completed the form as quickly as possible, without any of the pen-chewing consideration I’d given to any of the other applications. Not only did I end up getting the job but, subsequently, it led to several promotions and me working for the umbrella organisation through a number of re-shuffles and mergers for the best part of 14 years. How glad am I that I didn’t simply chuck the form in the bin!

So what has this got to do with writing? Well, umpteen years later and here I am entering as many story competitions as I can in the hope of furthering my writing career. As a subscriber to Writing magazine last year, I was eligible for their new subscribers’ competitions – there was no doubt I’d enter the short story comp (indeed, I spent some time reviewing and selecting a suitable entry), but there’s also an annual poetry competition. Now, those of you who know me well will be familiar with the sort of poetry I write – it’s the kind which is appropriate to scribble in a birthday card to raise a smile.  A poet, I’m not.  Still, I’d written a poem as an exercise for one of my local writing groups. Feedback from the group had been positive so I decided to send it off.

Months went by and, unsurprisingly, I heard nothing. On my submission tracker, I marked the story submission as unplaced but I hadn’t even entered the poem on the tracker.  And then I had a call from Jonathan Telfor, editor of Writing magazine, telling me my poem had won the competition! Me? Win a poetry
competition? Surely there’s been some mistake?

I’ve waited until it’s appeared in print, just to be sure – but honestly, the October Issue of Writing, which is out now, includes the 2016 competition special along with Jackie Tritt’s winning short story, and my winning poem ‘The Midnight Demons’.   I couldn’t be more chuffed – particularly as Jonathan has written lots of lovely things about it in the judging comments.

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It seems as though all those years of attempting to pare back my prose and remove redundant words has paid off – albeit in a different genre. Thank you Writing magazine for encouraging me to widen my horizons!

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