Another month turned to history. Ten competitions entered and therein always lies the writer’s vulnerability: if you send your work into the world, there will always be the possibility of rejection. Of course, all writers could lie in bed looking wistfully from a window, wondering if the world is missing their genius. Or they could lick a few stamps/press a Paypal button and send out something they have crafted for judgement.
It takes time to become thick-skinned/professional about the inevitable rejection. It could be worse; actors have their whole selves rejected until their face fits. Imagine some cynical smoking man looking past you as if you are a scab on his dog’s behind – saying ‘Next.’ I once had an actor boyfriend and he whined so much about the rejection process that I took a dare and auditioned for a theatre school on the same day that he did. Bristol OId Vic, to be exact. I chose a scene from Taming of the Shrew and a song from My Fair Lady. There he was, my judge: a tired, bored grey-hued man in a stuffy room. I sang terribly, in a Cockney accent that would have shamed Dick Van Dyke. The Shakespearian speech was worse, as my grey man’s lack of interest completely deflated my confidence. I wasn’t surprised to get a rejection letter. My boyfriend got in and I went on to witness this process being repeated for him throughout. So writers, it is all comparative. We at least are hidden away when we are rejected – it doesn’t happen in a public arena.
What helps though, is sharing. Whether it be to share success – as with Tania (Hershman) who recently won a prize with her play – which makes me feel sunny and proud. I have been even prouder when I have had input into stories which have then gone on to be published or been placed in competitions. I have learnt a huge amount from critiqueing – literary forensics really help a writer to writer better, more dynamically themselves. Or to compare with writerly friends our near misses/abject failures. I like to see entering competitions as one of those intellect-grooming puzzles for children – the ones with the shapes and colours that you have to correlate. I am always trying to bludgeon a blue square into the red triangle slot. But I am learning. Having fun too, especially in an elaborately constructed fantasy life of winning all the competitions in my head.
Have decided for this year to take a particular author or poet and read every single poem/book/story they have produced, as well as all the literary criticism I can stomach. My first will be Seamus Heaney, whose poem Digging is one of my most loved and begins thus:
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun
I can read that a hundred times and still find it beautiful.
- 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)'
- ▼ 2010 (4)
- ► 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