Saturday, 17 March 2018

Fish short-story prize-winner- Helen Chambers of Wivenhoe Writers!

I want to scream this from the rooftops: I’ve won the FishShort Story Prize for 2017/18 and this exciting, overwhelming, wonderful news has had to remain below the radar for nearly three weeks. I’m just about bursting!

The email, when it arrived (I’d submitted the previous November and, as advised, forgotten about it), was so unexpected and such a surprise, that I asked Marcus, my long-suffering husband, to check I’d understood it correctly. He agreed with me – I’d won! This means that it’ll be published in their 2018 anthology, that I’ll hopefully get to visit the West Cork Literary Festival in July and meet some of the other shortlisted writers and hear their work, but also so much more than that. I’m aware that it’s a prestigious competition and it’s going to make my writing CV look so much more impressive!

I’ve been walking around in a daze since then. I’m truly delighted. It’s a huge boost to my confidence, which, as a writer (I can definitely say I am a writer now!) tends to fluctuate wildly. Writing can be a lonely activity, so feedback – from friends, other writers and especially competition judges, is always welcome and helpful. I’m glad that judge Billy O’Callaghan liked my story ‘Clippings’ as I’m aware that a preference for one shortlisted story over another can be rather subjective. I’m especially fond of my protagonist, Tilly, as I’ve spent so much time with her, and I’m sure she’d be pleased for me.

The judge said:
'Clippings – Just exceptional. I was a bit sceptical at first of the structure, but the story unfurls wonderfully. Incredibly emotional, truthful and heartfelt. Beautifully drawn characters. I read this several times over the past two weeks and as I sit here now, I want to read it again. It’s a story that has left a deep impression on me.'

It’s boosted my enthusiasm too – to revisit a novel I’d put on hold, to carve out proper writing time for myself instead of letting it drop down the priority list, and most importantly, to keep writing. Don’t any of you ever give up – you never know what’s round the corner! Many thanks to friends, family and writing friends for their support and encouragement, and most especially to The Wivenhoe Writers, who all know Tilly too.