Over the years I have submitted quite a few poems and stories to writing competitions, with a moderate level of success. I should enter far more than I do because I have such a vast number of poems and a few stories that the only problem is actually choosing which pieces go where. I have also been intending sending off far more items to magazines and journals in the hope of being published.
To me there seems little point in all of that writing languishing unread and unloved on my hard-drive. I would encourage my readers to do the same. In the light of that I will include here details of some up and coming competitions and publishing opportunities. Here is the first one:
Submissions for this creative writing competition are now open and will close on March 6th 2015. Only one entry for each category – poetry and short story – is allowed per person. Unlike most competitions, entry for this one is free.
This is the second time this competition has been offered and I intend to submit a poem in the next day or so. I do not have a suitable story on the set theme “Hope against hope” and I am hoping that some inspiration will come my way in the next week or so.
When I was completing my Masters degree at Tabor a few years ago we often talked about the possibility of hosting a writing competition but nothing came of it then. It is therefore great to see it finally get off the ground and last year’s event was a huge success with hundreds of entries from all over Australia.
- The 2015 Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing Awards – for details, conditions and how to submit an entry.
A few years ago I went through a period of writing dozens of flash fiction pieces, some of them published here on this site. Some of them have also been published in journals, magazines and anthologies. I haven’t written any short fiction in quite some time, something I should correct.
As I see it, writing short fiction, also called flash fiction, is an excellent practice for any writers of general fiction. These short writing activities – from a mere handful of words up to about a limit of 1000 words – are good exercises for developing the various skills for longer fiction, or even for writing interesting non-fiction. At one stage I limited myself to a mere 50 words. That does not give you much room to move; every word must count.
I recently came across a short article about flash fiction here.
You can read flash fiction on the bus, or while you’re travelling between two train stations. You can read it while you’re waiting at the dentist. You can read it in that short time between sex and dozing off. It’s a small involvement for a much larger pay-off.
Over the years I have been writing this blog I have written just over 1,000 articles. Some of these include poems or stories I have written (see the sidebar for links), and many others have been about blogging and writing. Of those about writing, many have been on the topic of goal setting.
I have always been someone who likes to set goals, not just for my writing but also my daily to-do lists. Such lists help me to keep on track as well as keep me accountable to myself. After all, I do not have a boss leaning over my shoulder keeping me on task, though sometimes it feels like my wife might like to have that role.
I have just read a very thorough and useful article called Setting Goals: why you need them and how to write them. This article is a thoughtful discussion on the reasons behind having goals for your blogging, and practical ideas on how to write and implement them. While the article is primarily aimed at blogging, most of the ideas are also applicable to writing in general.
It’s worth a read.
- Goal setting – articles from the archives of this site
- Setting goals: why you need them and how to write them on ProBlogger.
I must confess that I read quite a few poems in the passage of each year. I subscribe to and read a number of literary journals and occasionally buy volumes of poetry, especially new releases from poets I respect or have grown to love; for example, I ordered a new volume of Valerie Volk’s poems yesterday. I also borrow books of poetry from my local library from time to time, usually as the mood moves me.
I also write a moderate amount of poetry in the course of a year. I have never counted the poems I have written but a list must run to many hundreds, maybe 500 – 600 or so over the last 50+ years. I started writing poetry at high school. During that time I have also had many dozens of poems published in a wide variety of journals, magazines other places. As well I have on occasion been asked to perform my poems in public. I have self-published nearly a hundred of my haiku and poems on this site here. Several of my poems have won awards too.
Over the years I have written some reviews of books I have read, but rarely have I reviewed poems or books of poetry. This morning I was alerted to a major critique of the state of reviewing and critiquing poetry at present in the Australian scene. In his article “The Poet Tasters” Ben Etherington reviews the state of literary criticism of the current and recent crop of books of poetry, and finds them sadly deficient. He compares them to the lofty heights of general literary criticism – mainly novels.
The poetry critic is a different creature, evolved within a different ecosystem, whose resemblance to most critics of fiction is not much closer than honeyeaters to chickens.
The problem, as I see it, and as Etherington points out, is the result of economics. It is well known that a handful of novelists in Australia can make a modest living from their craft, but poets generally are their poorer cousins – much, much poorer.
The art form subsists in an economy of university posts, writing courses, postgraduate scholarships, literary prizes, government grants, fellowships, philanthropy and, above all, self-funding.
In the article he goes on the critique the critics, quoting extensively from a representative sample of them and concludes that the critics are far too effusive in their praise, and far too lacking in deep, incisive criticism. I confess that I too usually fall into this trap when reviewing, preferring to err on the side of praise than appear to be too harsh. I can think of only one exception where I was quite blunt and in direct opposition to the vast chorus of praises heaped upon the novel The Slap which I found written in a lazy and offensive manner.
Over coming months I do intend reviewing – and even critiquing – a number of volumes of poetry I have read in recent times. I must remember to not just end up praising the works but also digging a little deeper.