Sporadic blogger that I am I felt the time has come to write a new one to mark the publication of my new book THE HAPPY HOME FOR BROKEN HEARTS, to celebrate the launch of my new website www.rowancoleman.co.uk and because its almost time to announce the winner of Rowan Coleman's Short Story competition which means I really need to decided between my two favourite today!!
It is hard. Judging the 300 or so entries (with some help from the guest judges) gave me a whole new insight into what it might be like to be on the other side of the publication process. The person reading the submissions and making the decisions.
First of all, there are a lot of truly talented people out there. The standard of stories submitted was generally really high, and I know that every one always says that - but in this case I promise you it was true.
Having said that I also realised that people tend to want to write about the same thing. There were a lot of funerals, quite a lot of prison, and much dwelling on death. There was a large helping of sex and violence and quite a bit of romance. This isn't to say these stories weren't good, two of my most favourite that have got into the top eight were prison and funeral stories. Besides I think people also tend to want to read about the same thing, the human condition - so I didn't hold that against anyone.
And of course its subjective. Its my opinion that counts. That's quite a responsibility. There were some stories that were so well written, but I just couldn't warm to them. I could see the technical skill, the ability, the talent. But they didn't reach me in the way I want my winning story too. Which makes me feel awful, because I don't know any writer who hasn't had the feedback at one time or another that goes something like 'its good, its just not doing it for me.' Its kind of frustrating, to say the least!
So I have two stories sitting on my desk. One will be the winner, one will win second place (the other places are already decided) I have to decide, there are no two ways about it. The question is which?