Monday, 17 October 2011

Just not meant to be?

Have you ever resigned yourself to something not happening, deciding that the best way of looking at it is that it 'just wasn't meant to be'? That's just happened to me, with a competition I was going to enter.

I think, actually, I was kidding myself a bit, even thinking of entering it. It's the The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012 - which is only open to published writers, so you can imagine how high the standard must be. OK, I'm published, and I write a lot of short stories too, but normally my stories are specifically geared to the womag market and not really the sort that I'd enter for what sounds like quite a 'literary' competition. But it just so happens I've got one story that might 'fit' ... I wrote it just because it was a story I wanted to write, not for any particular market, and I only ever submitted it to one magazine. I wasn't surprised it was rejected as 'unsuitable', and I didn't try it with any others as it just isn't a typical womag story (and at just under 3000 words, it's also too long for most of them).

So I downloaded the entry form and instructions, etc, and then (typically) put them to one side and spent more than a month dithering about it. But for some reason, today, I suddenly decided I was going to enter it. I told myself it was being a bit ridiculous, that with all the Very Clever Writers obviously entering (it's a big prize), I had absolutely no chance ... but equally, absolutely nothing to lose.

I read the list of formatting requirements, and started making a few necessary amendments to my text (no indenting, no page numbers, that kind of thing) ... and then read the rules. Oh yes, I should have done that first! One of them states that by entering the competition, you agree to make yourself available to attend any events you may be asked to, during the lead-up to the awards ceremony, which is part of the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. And the dates are ... when I'll be in Australia next spring, visiting my brother!

Now, I must admit I hesitated. After all, the only people who'll be required to attend those events will be those who are at least long-listed, if not short-listed. And that's never going to be me! But ... after all, what would be the point in entering, if I was so certain of having no chance whatsoever of coming anywhere, that I was prepared to turn a blind eye to that requirement? And it is one of the rules. Supposing they decided to invite the writer of the worst entry in the competition to go along - a bit like the worst performers on X-Factor are publicly humiliated! Not that the Sunday Times are likely to behave like that, of course!

So, needless to say, only a couple of hours after deciding to give it a go, I've had to abandon the whole idea. Being contrary by nature, I'm now feeling disappointed that I'm not entering after all! But of course, the trip to Australia will more than make up for it! And ... maybe next year, I'll dig that story out again and actually enter it.

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