I woke this morning to an email from NYC Midnight, telling me that the first round results were in. The email itself gave no clue as to how well you’d done, so with bleary eyes I clicked on the link, using the browser on my phone to see how my story, Tylluan Valley, had gone down with the judges.

I would’t say that I had high hopes; but I had hope. I wouldn’t have entered the competition if I didn’t think I had the talent to get past the first round, and I liked the story that I’d written. I’m not sure I could have done better under the competition conditions.

But…my name wasn’t in the top 5. I took a deep breath, already mentally consoling myself and putting a positive spin on things; then I noticed something. In addition to the five winners, there were three ‘honorable mentions’. Do you know who got one of those? Me!

NYC Midnight Result

Every entry gets individual feedback from judges, which should be with me in the next 48 hours. I’m really looking forward to getting that, and to see what I can do to improve for next time.

I enjoyed the competition. Like Hour of Writes, NYC Midnight stretches writers by giving them prompts and setting a time limit. For the first round my assignment was to write a ghost story, involving a scholarship student and a secret; trying to write a story that included these elements without being stereotypical was a challenge.

Ghost stories are not something I write (I don’t particularly enjoy reading them either) but that’s where the real lessons in writing are found, I think. When I’m in my groove, with Sci Fi or children’s stories, it all comes easily and I don’t have to think; the art and craft of it comes naturally. Take me out of that groove and it becomes trickier, and in the conscious choices I make I learn something.

So yes, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to the 2nd round, I would have loved to have been part of that. I don’t regret entering at all; I’ve learned some lessons and I have a great short story to show for it.

The world had never been so empty. As I rounded the bend and saw the expanse of the valley spread out beyond and below me, my heart blossomed with the beauty of it. All the same, my instincts were complaining that this place was too big, too open, too lonely. (Tylluan Valley – Sarah Dixon)

Winning is very nice, but honorable mentions and valuable lessons are pretty great too. I’ve got my sights set on next year, though!