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Could you be Writer of the Year 2013?

October 19th, 2012

As usual, thanks to Louise for last week’s guest blog. I can vouch for the fact that she really does practise what she preaches! I can also vouch for the fact that it pays dividends – when I last had coffee with her I could feel myself going green with envy as she told me about the overseas trips she’d enjoyed in the previous few months, writing for various magazines.

My favourite word

I notice that Readers’ Digest currently has a new competition in association with Chambers. All you have to do is tell them your favourite word and then explain in no more than 100 words why it should win. The best will receive £100 in cash plus £100-worth of Chamber’s products. In addition there will be 50 runners-up. The closing date is 14th December.

My favourite word at the moment is ‘discombobulated’ – I suspect this is because we are just coming to the end of the political party conference season and I’m sure anyone who has listened to enough of the speeches must be feeling that way. So what’s yours? If you’ve got a particularly interesting one, please let me know.

Raw writing talent

And talking about a way with words, I’ve just taken my first dip into reading works by Alan Sillitoe (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), John Braine (Room at the Top) and Stan Barstow (A Kind of Loving). They bring back a gritty, grey northern world of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s – though in Sillitoe’s case the Nottingham that he writes about in later books is exactly what I still remember from my time there in the early ‘80s. Their characters are often far from lovable but what makes them leap off the page is the dialogue. You can really hear them speaking to you!

I found Stan Barstow’s comments in his preface to a book of short stories particularly interesting: “My circumstances and background didn’t seem a very hopeful breeding ground… There were no writers in my family (there were, in fact, few real readers); I’d enjoyed English at school but I’d done nothing in that line since, and I had no university education to help me. It took me a long time to realise that none of these things mattered, and that talent has a way of springing up in all sorts of apparently unlikely places.”

So if you’re sitting at home, undecided about your writing ambitions, don’t let anything put you off. Give it a go!

My guest next week is Cynthia John who was a runner up in our 2012 Writer of the Year Competition. She’ll be looking at writing from the perspective of people who want to approach English-speaking publications with their work but for whom this may not be their first language.

Finally, don’t forget our 2012 Poetry Competition with prizes totalling £1100. If you don’t enter, you can’t win!

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