In early 2011, Spec Fic NZ teamed up with the Wily Writers Podcast to run a short story competition. I read the email, and did nothing about it. I read the newsletter that mentioned it again, and I did nothing. As far as I was

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concerned, my stories were not of a calibre required to qualify, much less win, writing competitions.

Then the wonderful Ripley Patton dropped me a line to nudge me towards putting in an entry, because you know, when opportunity knocks and all that, it’s better not to bury your head under a pile of elephant dung. Or words to that effect.

Accordingly, I pulled my finger out from wherever it had been hiding and went digging through my piles of incomplete stories, and put my forehead to the page, my nose to the grind, my pedal to the metal, and so on and so forth. I wrote like the wind, only with more substance and less of that draughty feeling you get when there’s a gap

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got disheartened, pulled it apart, broke it down, put it back together, went back to where I’d started, agonised over it and finally, convinced that I had just wasted several hours of my time and the time of everyone involved, submitted the story.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Crucible had taken top honours in the competition. In a word, I was very surprised. OK, that’s two words. What do you think I am, a writer?

Anyway, it appears that the judges liked it, and I hope that everyone who listens or reads the story does, too. The upshot of all of this is that I am now aware of a whole new world out there which I had, up until now, been blissfully ignoring. I have never considered myself particularly proficient in the art of the short story, but I guess after months of consuming the best short fiction I can find in audio form (usually at StarShipSofa, Lightspeed Magazine, and elsewhere), something must’ve sunk in.

So I’m about to start treating the short fiction market very seriously indeed. I might not take it by storm, but I’ll give it it a damned solid shot.

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