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Friday, 15 November 2013

Blog - 15/11/13

Hello! So I got the results back from the latest short story competition, and unfortunately I didn’t make the long list. Pretty disheartening to be honest, but you have to take rejection as it comes. I feel like I was scuppered by the perils of the open themed competition. Without an indication of what the judges are going to be looking for (and the committee that decide the long listing for that matter) it really is equivalent to a stab in the dark. You could strike it lucky and find the judge’s jugular, they are people - each will have their own tastes and a key feature of said people as opposed to an automated computer system is that they are wont to change their mind often. Obviously writing skill comes into it, if you DO happen to find that needle then execution is paramount. You don’t want to be giving them that red shirt they wanted only to have it fall apart in their hands because of your dodgy stitching! I just think specific themes give you a much better chance.

 Having said that though, a little research could be your ally here. Looking back at previous winners’ entries for example, if they are freely available. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a host of back issued anthologies, it just seems an unjustified outlay for a slim chance of small returns. Having looked back, I don’t think this particular competition was the right place for my story. Previous winners all seemed to be light hearted and every day, whereas my story is darker and out of the blue. Again though, who’s to say they didn’t want a change this year? You just can’t be sure.

 Sounds reasonable right? Haha, I’ve had a few days to reflect. At the time in a fit of injustice I immediately found another competition with the same word limit and entered it straight away. None of my above suggested checking or screening. So let’s see how that goes... Fingers crossed for a bloody mess. If it doesn’t turn out how I want I’m going to give the story one last chance at a different word limit before scouring the competition lists and periodically entering both versions in a few free entries. It may just be that I’ve found myself a bit of blueprint. All of writing is learning, don’t you know. In an unrelated matter I’m thinking of coining a new catchphrase...

 In terms of reading I finished Dan’s Purdue’s anthology ‘Somewhere to Start From’. The review I gave it on Goodreads is as follows:

‘Solid works with plenty of variation. That goes for the lengths of the works too, I think it was a good idea not to group them by size because the shorter pieces form a nice break in between the longer stories.

Overall I think I'd say that 'Are "Friends" electric?' was my favourite, but other highlights include 'Featherweight' and 'One Street Corner Too Soon'. Also, 'Falling from Grace' is probably my favourite super short piece I've ever encountered.’
I gave it three stars. And I’ve been thinking about that. It’s difficult to rate a collection of stories on the same scale as fantastic novels and ongoing series’. I feel like there should be a separate rating system. I mean, who could honestly give a random collection five stars in comparison to their favourite books? It seems illogical. I will say though, I was going to give it four, thinking on a separate scale, but on reflection there were little problems I found with most of the stories that prevented me from naming them as specific recommendations. There’s no doubting his writing skill, it’s just the stories themselves that irked me sometimes. Also, (cover your ears lads) size is an issue. I don’t think it’s any coincidence my favourite works were the longer pieces. There’s more time to build an affinity to characters, worlds and situations. I’m keen to read longer pieces of his when the time comes, but unfortunately a couple of months ago he declared his ongoing novel was going to be put on hold!
I’ve also been tucking into the ‘Mistborn’ series. I’m about two thirds of the way through the first book and enjoying it thus far. The magic system is interesting. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant when it was described to me beforehand by friends. It’s described in a lot of detail. I guess the writer is just making sure that the reader understands it fully at this early stage and will gradually pull away from so much guide lining and hand holding the further I get into the series. Much applause though, it’s good once you get to know it. Also the way it’s introduced is something akin to perfect writing in terms of technique/systems. There is a character that doesn’t know much about it at the start and as she’s schooled by the more experienced characters we get to learn alongside her, and wouldn’t you just know it? She gets to learn all the variations whereas most people are only lucky enough to have one. A few months back I was complaining that the unabridged version of ‘Moby Dick’ was putting me off because the explanations of equivalent things such as equipment were instead reflective and detached. Well here’s a better way of doing it. Also, it’s that much easier without such a restrictive word limit.
Not much sporting input this month other than a tip of the hat towards Novak Djokovic for winning the Tour Finals and a bit of nail biting as Arsenal went into the international break with a reduced lead at the top after an unfortunate result at Old Trafford. Until next time, buh-bye!


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1 comment:

Dan Purdue said...

Hi Paul,

I stumbled across your review on Goodreads (I don't know why I didn't get any kind of notification from the site itself), and just wanted to thank you for taking the time to review the book. I'm glad you enjoyed at least some of the stories!

Incidentally, I have very similar reservations to you with regard to rating short story collections - a single rating doesn't make a whole lot of sense in many ways. Particularly with a collection like mine that has no unifying theme or style. It's much easier to rate a novel.