People often say that words aren’t dangerous. But writers know better than that. We understand the power that words have. When we wield them we are all aware how we’re casting lightening stolen from the Gods.
Events in the world prove just how fickle words are. Assaulted by ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘post-truth’ a fiction writer gets concerned. People are using the words we love to spread fear not knowledge. Moreover, the seriousness of reality can make our whimsical tales feel unworthy of attention.
But fear not. Ursula Le Guin in her usual brilliant fashion, explained the difference between these ‘lies dressed as truth’ and actual fiction. You aren’t part of the distraction, you’re part of the fight against it.
Those words that you pull from your mind are not a distraction from current events. They are a mirror to it, deliberately or not. You have something to say. About life, love, truth. Your words will make people think and feel. By thinking people have power.And by feeling, people find truth. Research shows those who read fiction books are more empathetic to the world around them. They’ve been inside the minds and the stories of people who, though fictional, are not themeslves. Stories show us there’s a world of thoughts and feelings out there and though we are important, we are not only and we are not lonely.
Moreover these words you write – they’re important to you. They keep you going. They take what’s inside of you and give it somewhere to live. Your writing has extra meaning in these times. So keep broadening those horizons because we need it.
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.
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 write full-length novels. But I’d also have smaller ideas and write short stories now and then. Once I subscribed to a writing magazine, I realised that there was a whole world of short story and poetry competitions out there. They’re good because give you the opportunity to hone your craft as a writer, get your work published and maybe even get a bit of money as well.
Here are five tips if you’re thinking of trying out some writing competitions:
- Plan well – choose competitions you want to enter and make a note of when they close. Writing magazines are a good source for competitions, but one of my favourite websites was www.prizemagic.co.uk. It’s pretty comprehensive, frequently updated and includes all the important information you need to know such as word counts and theme. Once you’ve entered a competition, keep a record of it. competition’s rarely get in touch unless you’ve won, even if you’re shortlisted, so you’ll need to check them.
- Stick to word counts – a few words over is fine but more than that and you’re going on the ‘no’ pile. If a competition has a massive amount of entries, culling those who don’t follow the rules is an easy way to cut down the stack.Submit via hard copy and you may feel you can fudge the word count but I wouldn’t advise it. In any case, many competitions only take online submissions now so it’s easy for them to check the count.
- Research previous winners – chances are a competition has run before and it’s possible that previous winners work is available to read online. Take the opportunity to see what the judges have gone for in previous years. It’s not set in stone and judges can vary but it gives you a broad idea of the style and theme of writing the competition is 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 tending to be the more expensive. It’s up to you how much you want to pay, but always check and double check the validity of a competition before your part with your money. A couple of pounds may not seem much, but imagine that coming 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 this helped me develop my writing style. It’s the perfect opportunity to give something you’ve not tried a go.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Please share your experiences and advice below.