It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Not that you’ve made any resolutions yet, but maybe you’ve started thinking about them? Is this the year when you’re going to get fit/pass an exam/learn a language? And what else? Get published?
Have you said to yourself, on more than one occasion, that if you ever put your mind to it, it would only be a matter of time before you were seeing your name in print? Maybe 2014 will be the year to finally do it.
Where to start? Well, there are creative writing courses all over the place, some good, some bad, some indifferent, but most expensive and time consuming. Perhaps it might make sense to find out first whether you actually need them. Wherever you are in the world, but in particular the U.K. and the U.S., you’ll find there are short fiction competitions going on, usually for prizes. The prizes usually aren’t a lot, a few hundred pounds/dollars perhaps, but that’s not really what it’s about; it’s about getting yourself some kind of a publication record, because at the moment, no publisher is going to look twice at you if you haven’t published anything. If you reason, as I did, that unless your material does something in a competition or two, you’re probably wasting your time, isn’t it worth trying your luck in a few of them before you fork out chunks of your hard-earned money on creative writing courses?
For a good deal less than a creative writing course is going to cost you, you could buy a volume of stories which have all won something – prizes, commendations, listings – in fiction competitions. Twenty five prize winners. For the princely sum of £10.95 and, at the moment, with free postage and packing, ‘First Flame’ by Bruce Harris will give you a good idea of what kind of writing is likely to get you those results and that publication record. And make 2014 the year when it’s your name on the fiction credits, on the net, in print, and who knows what to follow?