It’s delicious to put footprints where there are none, stain something a bit too pristine. Not to mention putting all the mistakes and bad things in a bag and drowning them. That to me is how the New Year always feels. Christmas is usually a dull time, where chocolate becomes heroin and television subdues me. I am not religious. Was once. Wanted to become a nun in fact. Loved the glamour and guilt of the Catholic Church. It felt noble and thrilling. At the same time, because my career aspirations were twofold, I told a local paper that I wanted to become a ‘romantic novelist.’ I had just won a poetry competition and the answer filled a gap in the conversation between the journalist and myself. It was a joke. I was ironic even pre teenage. But it was shaming to see it in print and compared to that, the compulsion to take Holy Orders seems a lot more respectable.
Yet the writer bit persists – even if the romantic feeling for writing and religion has been tempered with a fiercer and more realistic ambition. I really want it now, that success, the nodding of clever heads when they read my work.
Today, on January 1st, I reworked an old story and sent it off to Mslexia. Noted it down on my calendar and vowed to forget it. This year I was shortlisted for the last Mslexia competition but this year, I want a prize. If I say it, will it happen? Are you listening universe?
Today has been a positive day. My daughter with her grandmother doing their annual New Year’s Day walk, with dogs, children, determined old ladies. My other half cutting, shaping and laying a beautiful oak floor in our strangely shaped library to be. It was a task, but I saw him with a pencil behind his ear, a tape measure strapped to his belt. He looked happy, creative. We are one step closer to our reading room, which will have no television but a glut of books, a sofa and a desk. A curl up room.
All positive. All forward. I vow that every day I will do something connected with writing. At least start a story, work on an old one, or submit to a publication or competition. No more arsing around. No more Mrs Nice Writer, redecorating her ivory tower with a vase full of peonies. The time has gone to be fey and like the old Doctor Who, I want to be regenerated. Someone more positive would be great. Someone with more energy and less angst would be helpful.
Oh and if it is possible to look like Natassja Kinski circa 1982……..oh well, I will stick to the writing.
Although my writing persona will have changed, I will still be the same human creature. Still as in love with my other half, willing my child to do well, loving my friends and animals with great passion and respect. I will continue to enjoy others’ success, because that has always given me a whoop in my step, a sense of pride. The only difference is that I want to be a great writer.
A really great writer.
- 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