Terry Warren's wet notebook

Four things I have learned since winning the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize by Terry Warren

1. PEN AND PAPER - QUITE USEFUL FOR A WRITER.

Sure – graft and craft at the keyboard are a big part of any kind of writing but creative ideas can appear wherever and whenever they feel like it. My 2017 Bridport Prize entry ‘Buttercups’ was mostly roughed out in indecipherable biro scrawl on the inside of my forearm whilst out walking. Clearly this is not a particularly efficient method of note-taking except, perhaps, for cheating in exams. Also I have a day job and arriving at a meeting looking as if I’ve been tattooed by a drunken abstract expressionist is not a good look.

So I have resolved that every jacket pocket has a pen and a notebook and that every table, shelf and worktop in the house has paper and pens. It’s a basic concept but it’s working – although I am getting through an awful lot of pens. Who is taking them all? I live on my own for goodness sake…

2. I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN COPE WITH THE ENGLISH WEATHER…

Dorset is a lovely English County and I’ve been living here for 25 years. However, I do a lot of my creative thinking while walking in the countryside and we’ve just endured the wettest winter I can remember. A constant state of sogginess is not, for me, conducive to creativity. Plus the pen and notebook thing just doesn’t work in a downpour. (See photo – though I’m quite pleased with my improvised drying method.)

3. BUT RETREATING DEEP INTO RURAL FRANCE MAY NOT BE THE ANSWER…

“Writer goes insane in remote cabin.” I know it’s a cliché but going completely off grid for a month – no neighbours, no phone, no Wi-Fi – in an isolated location with only some wild marmots for company in order to get some concentrated writing done. Not a good idea. Seriously.

Pens going missing was the least of my worries.

And if I’d checked I would have known the weather in France was no better…

4. IT’S REALLY HARD TO JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK.

I had never entered a writing competition before last year. I hadn’t shown my story to anyone and I really did not feel confident about it; if it had been submitted hard copy I would have been down the mailbox with some fishing line and chewing gum trying to get it back. Winning the Flash Fiction prize has given me so much confidence and the encouragement and advice of the BP judges, readers and indeed complete strangers who have read the compilation has been fantastic.

 

The real point is that art isn’t art unless you send it out there -or as Carson McCullers put it: ‘… all artists realize that the vision is valueless unless it can be shared.’  My advice to myself and to anyone else wondering whether their work is good enough to submit to a competition – just do it. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

 

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