2018 continues the trend of 2017 in being challenging on my time. I’m balancing my most important job (being a Mummy to two amazing kids) with full-time work and studying for my MA. Writing fiction, outside my studies, had fallen by the wayside.

So in January, I set the intention to enter more writing competitions and to foster my creative fiction again. I signed up for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, which is a competition I enjoy a lot as it stretches me. You’re assigned a genre, setting, and character and have to craft a story up to a word limit, in a number of days. In round 1, I was allocated to heat 5. The genre was mystery, the setting was opening night, and I had to include a character who was a sommelier.

It’s not a genre that I have read much of, but the sommelier came very strongly into my mind and the story coalesced around him. The ending surprised me, and I have been told it surprised readers, too. I would share it with you here, but I think with a little work I would like to enter it elsewhere and some competitions consider sharing on your blog to be prior publication.

The judges like it! I got some very encouraging feedback and placed first in my heat. The field of thousands has been narrowed down to 625 for round 2, and I’ve been given the genre of historical fiction, I need to include a negotiation and the character of a whaler. I can feel the setting taking shape beautifully in my mind, and I think I know what story I want to tell. I’m looking forward to writing it over the next three days.

I’m in the very fortunate position of being able to do what I love all day, to write. Whether it’s blog posts, grant applications or bids & tenders I get real joy from finding the way to communicate ideas. But I will admit, there is something about writing stories; knowing that I am giving people a little mental holiday to a world of my own creation, that is very special. I hope to be able to spend more time doing that, very soon.