World Book Day: Competition to Collaboration

photo by Jackie Roiz

by Carolyn Thomas

It’s writing your novel that counts, right? Some people tell me that writing for short story competitions is just my way of procrastinating and putting off the serious business of drafting my first novel. I don’t see it like this, although I can understand their concern; with the seemingly endless stream of ‘opportunities’ (as I call them) in the form of writing competitions that lure me in with their ever-differing challenges and themes, will there ever be an end to it?

But I know that each time I submit my work, I am honing my craft and testing the discipline needed to write to a deadline – I am known for leaving it to the last minute. For me, participation has paid off, particularly with one rather special competition that required participants to think up an ending for well-known authors’ short stories. How can anyone resist that challenge – and the unique ‘opportunity’ to collaborate with an established author?! 17,000 people in the UK entered the BBC’s ‘End of Story’ competition in 2005. I decided to try an ending for Marian Keyes’ delightful first half of a story called ‘A Woman’s Right to Shoes’. But there was the deadline; only 48 hours to go!

Undeterred, I spent an enjoyable percentage of those hours immersed in the author’s ‘voice,’ striving to provide a seamless and satisfying match to hers.

I was delighted to be a joint runner up and spend some time talking with Marian and an editor. She gave me encouragement and advice that I have never forgotten but most of all I felt inspired to carry on writing – and of course, reading.

It’s strange how, several years later, I find that I can spread that inspiration and enthusiasm through World Book Night. As a giver for this inaugural event I’m delighted to be tasked with finding deserving homes for copies of Marian Keyes’ novel Rachel’s Holiday.

You can find out how I distributed these books in my next article.

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Read the two halves of  ‘A Woman’s Right to Shoes’ by Marian Keyes and Carolyn Thomas HERE.

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