I was thrilled to discover yesterday that I had won the Cockermouth Crime Writing competition. The winner was announced at the Kirkgate arts centre in Cockermouth during a performance by the judge Mark Billingham and the band My Darling Clementine. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend despite being offered free tickets. However, I had not heard anything from the organisers so assumed that I had not been successful. But yesterday I collected a parcel from the post office which contained a signed copy of Mark Billingham’s latest novel, a signed CD by the band and a further two free tickets for the Kirkgate!
What has made it so special is that it was judged by Mark Billingham and he thought my story was ‘gripping and intriguing’. This kind of recognition – from a major crime author- is so amazing and really gives me confidence that my writing is getting to a better standard – certainly in this case. It is such a great incentive to keep writing even when I can’t be bothered or think that something I’ve written is pure drivel.
It has taken me about four years to win a competition. I’ve been placed second before now for my story in Seaglass and Other Stories and had several pieces published, but it’s not the same as having actually won something. Up till now by greatest achievement is probably being longlisted in the Bristol Short Story competition. Many, many more times I have had stories rejected for publication or just not placed. As a new author, it’s so hard not to keep looking out for the results and thereby not working on something new. I am learning to ‘forget’ about a competition or submission and, although hopeful every time, I’m not hanging my hat on every one like I used to. That way the disappointment is limited and the surprise of success is even greater!