Saturday, 9 February 2008

Willesden Herald Short Story Competition


The rather good sounding Willesden Herald Short Story Competition results are in and...there is no winner and no resultant anthology. From the blog, it looks like they had a hard time of it. 850 entries, a shortlist winnowed to 20 then 10 but none made the grade. The organisers did seem to dither openly when deciding what to do and left themselves open to some bitchy comments.

Writers get so touchy about rejection. Read some of the disgruntled comments. Even those shortlisted were disgruntled, refusing the money and asking for their shortlisted names not to be published. I think this was a result of the negative comments from the 840 who were not shortlisted. I don't think I would have rejected £500. There are some wierd writers out there.

It's hard sometimes to separate rejection of one particular story from rejection of your own person. It was the stories that weren't good enough.

Zadie Smith, the headline judge, issued a statement that was badly worded and condescending in my opinion. They were looking for 'great' writing, such a difficult thing to judge.

...does not mean that I or the other judges want to read hundreds of jolly stories of multicultural life on the streets of North London. Nor are we exclusively interested in cutesy American comedies, or self-referential post-modern vignettes, or college satires.

Is she trying to do a Simon Cowell?

If I said to most of the people who auditioned, 'Good job, awesome, well done,' it would have made me actually look and feel ridiculous. It's quite obvious most of the people who turned up for this audition were hopeless.

The Guardian has an interesting discussion here.
(Disclaimer - I didn't enter! but this blogger did.)



I didn't enter, but I did find it a little hard to believe initially, that there wasn't a single entry good enough to win!
It's such a subjective issue though and I agree that writers should try and separate the rejection of their story from themselves - trouble is, I think writers see their writing as an extension of themselves, therefore it feels personal!

I'd never react like that though - and believe me I've had plenty of rejections!!

PJ Nolan said...

That is a fascinating story - I bloggged it too. I can empathise with the shortlistees(?) being piqued about their treatment. Ok, so the judges perceived themselves to be taking a stand, but their handling of that was very poor - very poor form indeed to drag named entrants into their personal 'quality twilight zone' methinks?