An orgy of submitting to competitions and magazines can make a writer feel alive. It almost feels like being drunk. Over time this can be deflated at regular intervals by the inevitable failures. Some might be accompanied by a helpful note from an empathetic editor. Those don't feel so much like rejections, especially if they request to see more work. But the curt ones are a bugger, especially one I had recently that said: 'We will not be taking your work.' It was a standard reply but considering that this was a magazine meant to value the richness of language, they should have thought about that as a grumpy and poorly worded response.
Still, I send with optimism. Past successes at least give me confidence.
So even though emails can be dreaded - if they are rejections - I never stop loving email as a superb writer's companion. In the last few weeks I have contacted The Society of Authors to nitpick over some aspects of a contract and another legal department of a newspaper to check if I could reuse (i.e submit for publication) a previously published story that won a prize in their competition. The Society of Authors, as always, gave very good advice. The newspaper lawyers were churlish enough to say: "Well we can't stop you republishing the story." That was big of them.
Yesterday I wrote with a baby wren on my windowsill, exhausted by the new skills of flight. He was one of eight - two nests in total - who came out and chattered in the trees. It's a simple thing to watch but when the intensity of writing becomes a little tiring, just like learning to fly, it revitalises me.
So onward, to hone up a story for yet another competition.
To be hopeful, always.
- Julia Bohanna
- Shortlisted Bath Short Story Award 2013 Runner-up Cinnamon Press Competition 2013 WNNER: Don Louth Writer of the Year (run by Reading Writers) WINNER: Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012. SHORTLISTED: Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) 2012 for a short story collection. Writer/ Journalist - assistant editor and writer for the art and books pages of Wolfprint. Most recently published in Independent on Sunday and short story anthologies: Sentinel Champions No 9, 100 Stories for Queensland, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Haiti and From Hell to Eternity. In a recent writing competition, Joanne Harris described my writing as '...compelling (but quite creepy)'
- ► 2009 (13)
Prizes and Writing Awards
- Winner Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012
- Shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize for short story collections 2012
- Finalist in Brit Writers' Award 2011
- 2nd in Sentinel Literary Competition 2011
- Whitechapel Society Anthology to be published 2010
- Shortlisted for the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2009
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2009
- Joint winner of the Penguin/Decibel Prize 2008 - Asian Invisible. Published as The Map of Me
- Highly Commended in The National Galleries of Scotland Short Story Competition 2008
- Runner-up in Segora Short Story Prize 2008
- Joint Winner of The Lancet Short Story Competition 2007: The Resurrection Girl.
- Runner-up in Virgin Trains/The Guardian Short Story Competition 2007: A Small Revolution
- Winner of the Woman and Home Short Story Competition 2006: Ghosts of Jamaica.
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2005
- Runner-up in the Good Housekeeping Short Story Competition 2003
- Winner of The Sunday Telegraph Tourism for Tomorrow Travel Writing Competition 2002: Wolves of Rumania. Winner
- Winner and also Winner of Most Original Short Story in the Competition in Trowell and District Writers' Competition 2006