Thursday 15 December 2016

Guess What I Won?

Well it's the day after the night before and I can now reveal what I've been keeping quiet about since late October...

I won one of the annual competitions at Nottingham Writers' Club, the Rosemary Robb trophy for a ghost story titled, 'The Wishful Spirit'.

Winning the Rosemary
Robb Ghost Story
Writers are told to persevere and never throw anything away. Well the story that won this competition proves that statement...

In 2008 it was the first year the ghost story trophy competition ran; it was for a 1,000 word story (that year). I'd never written a ghost story before, but I tried anyway, and received some useful comments from the judge- the writer whom the trophy was named after, and who died a few years later.

The story was filed away and over the years I'd revised it and then put it away again. You see my ghost wasn't the scary type and most markets wanted the creepy sort...

In 2013 I rewrote it and entered it into a national competition, but didn't get anywhere again. Honestly I think it was really just the wrong competition for it.

So back in the box it went until late 2015 when I began to rewrite it yet again making some major changes and eventually submitting it to Woman's Weekly, as they mentioned in their guidelines at that time, 'quirky', and my ghost certainly fitted that description.

Sadly it was rejected.

Meanwhile, as Prose Secretary for the writers' club, I'd asked writer Wendy Clark to judge this year's Rosemary Robb Competition this autumn ( after reading her blog post about writing ghost stories) and she agreed. 

Having received the story back from the magazine I decided I'd enter it into our club competition to get some feedback, and hopefully find out what wasn't working.

I'd already decided a couple of things needed a slight adjustment, and one bit removed. As the maximum word count was 2,000 words I needed to lose about 500 words while still making the changes I needed. After a number of intense revisions I reached the maximum word count and entered it into the club competition.

As writers can have lots of contacts both online and off, the club has always asked members to use a pseudonym on their entry's cover sheet. 
We know our judges would never be influenced by already knowing an entrant, and as Prose Secretary I'm careful not to inadvertently write or say something that one of our judges might see- if I know them, and I intend entering.

So I was absolutely amazed when the results were returned. I'd won! I actually read the email twice to ensure I hadn't misread it.

One of the comments in the judge's feedback that made me smile was, "I found myself chuckling at the phantom, Bold Jack's, asides and imagined him dressed in full 'Captain Jack Sparrow' pirate regalia!" 

That wasn't too far off my mental image of 'Bold Jack' too, although older than the movie pirate... :D

So there we are full circle; the story first written for this trophy competition in 2008, finally won it in 2016. Even though it had rejections and all those revisions, the core of the story never changed.

Have you ever had any stories which took a long time to succeed?



Sherri said...

A story that I wrote so long ago it was on a typewriter (probably around 1990) was accepted by a magazine last year!

Well done on your win! xx

Carolb said...

Thanks, Bernadette.:-)

And congratulations on your story acceptance; shows that nothing is ever wasted holding onto it for later.

Paula Martin said...

I dug out a novel I first wrote in the 1970's, rehashed it, changed the ending, and it was published in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Carol. My story 'Stage Fright', which I wrote back in 2008 (as 'Donkey Work'), has been out to various competitions and magazines and never come anywhere, is in the Christmas TAB Fiction Feast - 3 years after they first rejected it! So yes, your advice is sound! Never give up on a story that you like. It will eventually find a home. And congratulations on your win! (Can we read the story anywhere?)

Keith Havers said...

Congratulations, Carol. Looking forward to reading it.

Patsy said...

Congratulations, Carol!

Yes, some of my stories have taken a while to find the right home.

Carolb said...

Congratulations, Paula, shows that no matter how old a story is, it can be reworked and have a new life. :)

Carolb said...

Thank you, Helen. :)

Having belief in your story's potential is important, thanks for sharing your eventual success.

I intend to submit it to Alfie Dog Fiction when they have their next submission window in March, so fingers crossed.

Carolb said...

Thanks, Keith. :)

Carolb said...

Thanks, Patsy. :)

It's good to remind ourselves that sometimes it just takes time finding our stories a home...

Teresa Ashby said...

Congratulations, Carol. It does take a while sometimes, but when you have faith in a story it's always worth persevering :-)

Carolb said...

Thanks, Teresa.:)

It really is worth persevering.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many congratulations, Carol! Not only does it show the worth of persevering to find the right market, but you've also tweaked it along the way and no doubt learned from each redraft. I've had a couple of older stories eventually published in light of redrafts and changed one short story into a novella! All part of the fun of writing.

Carolb said...

Thanks, Rosemary.:-)

Yes, I have learnt a lot from redrafting; every time I created a slightly different version I saw elements that a few years before I would have missed. It is certainly a learning process.