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Poetry Competition Winners 2021

October 1st, 2021

First, thanks to Anne for last week’s contribution. I couldn’t introduce her properly in my previous post as she is the winner of our 2021 Poetry Competition and the results hadn’t been officially announced. So congratulations to her for her poem Sunstruck. It’s a wonderful, sophisticated evocation of sunflowers in art. Second place went to Alan Coombe for Out of Season and A Spoonful of Syrup took third place for Tracy Davidson. Do go and read them as they are all worthy winners. And don’t forget, our Flash Fiction Competition is now open for entries until 30th November.

Now back to Anne’s post. I was intrigued by her comments about the supposedly worst opening sentence of a novel; so here it is:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness,”

It is the opening to Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Paul Clifford and it is so infamously bad that it’s the inspiration for The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), an annual tongue-in-cheek competition sponsored by the English Department of San Jose University. Entrants are invited ‘to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels’ – i.e. one which is deliberately bad.

Her post also looks at how lack of inspiration can block you as a writer. But it’s not just lack of inspiration that can be a problem; there are lots of other things that can make putting pen to paper hard work. So let’s have a look at them.

Do you have a full time job? If you do then you may feel that you haven’t got the necessary time to devote to your writing. But if you plan your time a little more efficiently you might be surprised at what you can achieve. Just an hour a day less watching TV or checking social media will give you time – or use your commute or lunch hour to jot down ideas and do research.

Do you have family commitments? Being a carer or responsible for children can be demanding and energy sapping. And when you don’t feel fully fit, concentrating on your writing becomes difficult. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to make some ‘me’ time when they’ve gone to bed or before they get up in the morning. Can you bribe children to do chores that will free up your time; or agree a rota with other parents so that you’re not always on school run/chauffeuring duties?

Are you untidy? Be honest with yourself. Is your workspace a mess and is this sapping your will to write? De-clutter and tidy up – you’ll be amazed at what a difference this can make.

Are you convinced you need to do some research before you can begin writing in earnest? Again, be honest with yourself. You could just be making excuses to procrastinate and if you’re not, then get on with it and, like Anne, don’t worry if you are side-tracked occasionally.

Are you lacking in confidence and self-esteem? You’d be surprised how many new writers suffer from this problem. OK, so you may not have had anything published yet, or not for a long time, but read widely and think about what you are reading. If you decide you could write as well as (or better) then screw up your confidence and get on with it. Call yourself a writer!

Finally, linked to this is fear of failure and ridicule. But for want of a better cliché: nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you don’t go for it, you could spend the rest of your life wondering ‘what if’? Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen. And once you realise that the answer is ‘nothing really awful’ then perhaps that will inspire you to get on with it!

My guest next week is writer and publisher Jacqueline Jeynes who will be looking at four different ways to get your book published.


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