The Glasgow Necropolis on a cold, bright morn; grand and Gothic and unsurprisingly, Victorian. Ever a society in love with death, elevating it into an art form fit for the ancients.
It’s easy to see why writers are fascinated by cities of the dead. Cemeteries tell a thousand tales. Inspiration and intrigue around every corner.
Sitting on a hill in the heart of the city, the Necropolis wakes. It looks over the old and new of Glasgow, a stark mix of grey-red stone and dark shadows.
The living walk amoung the dead, tourists, visitors and others poetically extolling virtues of life over breakfast beers
The grandest mausoleums sit on the prime spot at the very top of the hill. They show off wealth from the then-new industrial classes. Everlasting memorials to countless engineers and entrepreneurs, doctors, priests and generals.
You have no choice but to wander. No-one’s in a hurry. Walk and wind between the long forgotten and remember their tales.
On the other side of the hill a great screeching disturbs the dawn. An industrial site behind this resting place belches clouds of smoke and noise enough to wake the dead.
If you liked that, try these…
Exploring Highgate Cemetery
Agatha Christie’s Grave, Cholsey, UK
William Shakespeare’s grave
so that when you fall,
your descent will be arrested,
by a silver net of words
tied in knots
onto the walls.
And you ask,
are they strong enough,
tough enough, tall enough,
what if they just break
so that you crash into
So you write
and on you tie them
knots with bows
and knots with snarls,
knots with no one else around them,
into your soul.
For you know
the way you speak
in those tight,
fingers stained with psychic ink,
And it never
the story rolls forever,
blind and bullish,
without a hold.
The Torch is not the Only Guide
Words like Knives
My apologies to anyone who follows me (you still there?) as I’ve been neglectful of this blog of late. It’s been two months (!) since I posted anything which is not good.
My main issue has been dun dun dun…the day job. It’s been sucking up my time and energy like a sponge. I’m sure many of you know how that feels. The moments I do find for writing, I’ve been putting towards my WiP. This has at least paid off and I’m on the very last page of the book, right the end of my 3rd edit. I shall feel good once the last full stop is in place. Of course, then I’ll have to look for feedback from er, somewhere out there but that’s a whole other blog post.
To end, hello to everyone out there and, as the Writers Secret Prayer goes, “May your words flow without blockage”.
When I first started writing, my aim was to complete full length novels, because I assumed that was what proper writers did. Then I subscribed to a writing magazine and a whole world of short story writing opened up to me. Short stories were featured in the magazine often as part of competitions and many other short story competitions were advertised within its’ pages. I saw an opportunity to hone my craft, maybe get published and maybe even get paid.
So I began to actively seek out and enter competitions. I never won anything (I entered about forty or so comps over four years so wasn’t prolific), but I did manage to get on a few shortlists.
Plus it was useful to me as a writer. Not only did I get plenty of practice, I began to think of my writing differently. I planned, I wrote to order and to deadlines. I saw the potential of turning my craft into a career.
I haven’t entered competitions for a while, as I’m focusing solely on my book, but I would recommend trying them. Here are few nuggets of advice that might come in handy if you’re considering giving them a go.
- Plan – choose competitions you want to enter and make a note of them. Writing magazines are a good source for competitions, but one of my favourite websites was www.prizemagic.co.uk. It may not look like much but it’s pretty comprehensive, is frequently updated and includes all the important information you need to know such as word counts and closing dates. Once you’ve entered a competition, keep a record of it, especially the closing date. Competition’s rarely get in touch unless you’ve won, so you’ll need to periodically check up on them. A month without contact is a pretty good indication it’s not gonna be you. But you may have been shortlisted (like I was) and won’t know till you check!
- Stick to word counts – a few words over is probably fine but more than that and you’re not going to be helping yourself. Submit via hard copy and you may feel you can fudge the word count but I wouldn’t advise it. Many competitions only take online submissions now so it’s easy for them to check the count and if a competition has a massive amount of entries, well, culling those who don’t follow the rules is an easy way to cut down the stack.
- Research previous winners – chances are a competition has run before and it’s possible that the previous winners work is available to read. Take the opportunity to see what the judges have gone for previously. It’s not set in stone that’s what they’ll always be after (judges can vary year on year) but it gives you a broad idea of what they’re open to.
- Expect an entry fee – competitions will usually ask for an entry fee to help cover costs. It could be anything from a couple of pounds to double figures, with popular competitions asking for more. It’s up to you how much you want to pay, but always check and double check the validity of a competition. A couple of pounds may not seem much, but imagine that from a few thousand people and it’s enough to make a tempting scam. So be careful.
- Be picky – but not too picky – I chose competitions based on my preferred areas of interest and experience, but I also stepped out of my comfort zone from time to time. I got into poetry, tried a bit of non fiction and even attempted romance! All of which helped me hone my craft.
And that concludes my advice. Here’s hoping you find some of it useful. Have you ever entered any writing comps? Why not share your experiences?