I’ve been involved with writing competitions a good many times, mainly as a judge in recent years, but also sometimes as an entrant. An early version of what became the first chapter of my debut novel, All the Lonely People, was submitted to the Southport Writers’ annual seminar competition in the late 80s and got nowhere. Actually, that’s not quite true or fair, since I did get some feedback from the judge, Jessica Stirling (who was in fact a very likeable fellow, Hugh C. Rae) which offered some encouragement.
A couple of years later, the Southport Writers’ ran a short story competition judged by the senior fiction editor of ‘Bella’. My story, ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ won – a truly great moment. The story was published in ‘Bella’ (which sadly does not take fiction any more) and in ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’ and it helped to launch my career in print..
I’ve been asked to mention a writing competition run by that admirable organisation Mystery Women, and the details are here. Mystery Women does, I’m glad to say, allow men to join, but its special mission is to encourage women writers.
Is it worth devoting time and trouble to entering a writing competition? On balance, I think it often is – though it’s very important not to allow an initial lack of success to deter you from continuing to apply fingers to keyboards. Winning competitions and literary prizes is the icing on the cake – the ultimate measure of success is having readers who want to keep coming back for more of your work.