How many of you, as writers, take time out from your busy and creative work to enter competitions?
It’s been a little while since I have. But, I’m so glad I decided to enter a recent free competition that popped up in my Facebook feed. At first, I ignored it because I was busy working on my larger project. Why I haven’t even had any extra time in my life to routinely write blog posts, so how on earth would I be able to fit in writing a 1000 word children’s short story?
But something inside me niggled away at me. It niggled and niggled until I came up with an idea that is quite removed from what I normally write, and due to the idea cooking around inside me, yes, the storyline, I felt would be quite a fun story to write. Another drawcard was I have been focusing on writing in the first person POV (point of view) and decided that if I did write something for this short story competition, it would be to hone my new found skills I’d been using in my middle-grade novel; the first person perspective.
And so, that’s exactly what I did. I set a deadline that I could spend no longer than three days working on it from start to finish. I had to nut out my plan, write on the go and polish it myself. I did not involve anyone else or ask anyone to read it first. It was for practice and the big hurdle of letting go. Sometimes we get so stuck on the question, when is it time to let it go, so this competition was perfect. I had to meet the enforced deadline date as I’d only left myself three days from start to when it was time to send the manuscript away. I did not spend three whole days either. I worked on and off on it over the three days. I also had a second deadline due shortly after this competition, so I had to share my time between both short works.
I managed to meet both deadlines and the results of the first came in yesterday.
A good friend of mine rang me before the shortlist was made public and told me excitedly that I was one of three finalists. Already I felt like a winner. It was confirmation for me that I was on the right track with my writing. I have to admit, I got a buzz when I read the notice.
Yesterday I drove down for the BookLinks KidLit Quiz. I need to blog about it separately. It was a great event and I had a lot of fun participating. Right at the end of the event, they announced the 2018 Winner of the StoryLinks Children’s Short Story Competition and I was absolutely gobsmacked when they announced my story had won. To be honest, I felt most humbled and grateful.
Yesterday’s win for me means a lot to my journey of creative writing. It signifies I’m treading the right tracks. This competition came along at the right time because it made me make the decision to take time out from my bigger projects and write something fresh and lively and it turned out totally different from anything I’d ever written before, to have fun and experiment, and importantly meet a deadline and follow instructions (all great practice for the craft).
I congratulate the organisers of the competition, the runners-up and the other entrants. In my view, we are ALL winners. Without the other entries and of course the dedication and commitment of the organisers, then there would be no competition.
About the Story
I won’t go into too much detail here but will share a brief synopsis.
The story is about a boy, TJ, who loves his Dad, a lot, and is put to the test when his Mum talks Dad into signing up to be the school’s first tuckshop dad.
His father is recently retired from the military services and is learning to readjust to civilian life. Although Dad is a tough military man, at home he is the pussycat, and Mum is the Sgt Major. TJ feels like Mum is railroading Dad into something that they will all regret, especially after the local newspaper gets hold of the story. Little does he know Dad has plans of his own and TJ gets a big surprise.
You can read the whole story here.
Author: Debbie Smith
Debbie Smith is the author of a number of children’s short stories, poetry, picture books texts and is currently working on her first MG (middle-grade) novel, Hampton Common. She also writes for adults and has written the first draft of her adult outback novel, Lanolin on the Boards. Her debut children’s picture book, If You Meet an Elephant, is COMING SOON in 2019. Read about it here.
Debbie is the Founder and Creative Director of Shadytree Books. She tutors students in the Language Arts and Literacy areas, coordinates and runs Children’s Creative Writing and Art workshops for Shadytree Books’ StoryArts Holiday Program.
Debbie lives on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast near the lovely beaches of Noosa and it’s rich Hinterland life with her husband and gorgeous Cavoodle, Oscar. When Debbie takes time away from writing, she can be found at the farm riding her daughter’s Lippizaner horse, Obie, and handling and ground training her yearling Appaloosa foal, Joey.