The Literary Consultancy Director, Rebecca Swift muses on the importance of competition deadlines

COMPETITION DEADLINES

 

Writers have always thrived on deadlines. One of the most famous novels in the English language, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, began in an early form of writing group.  As she recounts:

 

"'We will each write a ghost story,' said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to. There were four of us ... Have you got a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative ... On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. At first I thought but of a few pages - of a short tale, but Shelley urged me to develop the idea..."

 

For more about this, and about how writing groups can help writers, here's an article I wrote in 1996, the year that The Literary Consultancy was founded. These days it is the writing competition deadline that so often galvanises new writers to finish projects.  With just four days to go before the deadline of the Bridport competitions including the Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the nature of deadlines and rewards.

 

A deadline can help to focus one's mind like little else. Ideas that have been scattered can rush together like iron filings to a magnet when a date is set. For a traditionally published writer, the deadline provided by the publisher or newspaper acts as a spur, both financial and psychological. For the emerging writer, the literary competition provides an equal sense of urgency.

 

POTENTIAL REWARDS

 

If you are published, when you submit work you can hope for engagement and praise from your editor, and in turn by reviewers, all being well.  When you enter a competition, if you are lucky and talented enough, you will earn the recognition of having stood out, and usually, a prize. If you don’t win, you will have managed to improve a piece of work before you submit, which is a benefit in itself.

 

The Literary Consultancy has become involved in several literary prizes since its inception.  None of these have been so long as established as the Bridport Prize, founded in 1973, and we look forward to working again with the talented winner and runner-up of the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel, and in trying to help them take their gifts to the next level. Cash prizes are one thing, but investment in a writer’s development can be invaluable – as is being increasingly recognised. As our Manager Aki Schilz observed in her blog for this site recently, ‘writing is a long game.’

 

We have been asked by Bridport to provide a mentoring placement for the winner, and editorial assessment, for the runner-up.   In case you don’t win, it might help to know that these services are available on a fee-paying basis, but we are delighted that Bridport have supported us, to support you in turn.  We take the business of writing seriously at TLC, and if we spot talent, we do our best to place you with literary agents, or help you self-publish successfully.

 

Whether you win or not, we wish you all luck in completing your entry by Sunday, and giving the Bridport Prize a chance. If you win, we look forward to working with you and if not, we can still be here for you if needed.

 

Good luck!  And if you get the competition bug, Google can help, but meanwhile here is a good list of prizes we have found to help you get your deadline fix!

  

Rebecca Swift

Director, The Literary Consultancy

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