Thursday, October 25, 2018

Longlisted for V S Pritchett Prize

One reason I haven't blogged since I supposedly started again is that I came down with a horrendous fluey-type cold. (There have been other reasons: my mother has been seriously ill, for one thing - though I'm glad to say she's much better now.) While I was sitting in front of the fire shivering and sneezing and mopping up the drips from my nose, and generally wishing I could just lose consciousness and wake up and find it all over (I couldn't sleep I was in such discomfort), I happened to click on my phone and discovered an email from the Royal Society of Literature - I had been longlisted for the V S Pritchett Short story Prize! (V S Pritchett pictured left.)

To be frank, I simply didn't believe it, I thought I must be hallucinating with the fever. It was a story I had written very quickly during the summer while we were in Wales, prompted, out of the blue, by a real-life incident someone related to me, one of those things that just take hold of you, so move you that you have to write it down forthwithand since I wrote it right up to the deadline for the competition and had to bung it in in a great hurry, I considered it more or less a first draft, and really expected to get nowhere. (And I had even forgotten about it when I talked about my summer's writing in my Sept 3rd blog post.)

The next day - with my fever abated - there was the email still on my phone, but I still didn't believe I could have been longlisted, especially as the mail was addressed, 'Dear Prize Entrant': I thought someone must surely have pressed a wrong button, and the email should really have gone to someone else. And there was an embargo on the news, the whole thing was still shrouded in secrecy, which added to the sense of its lack of substance. A few days later, another email followed, inviting me to the award event, but once again my name was not in the mail - it was presumably a form mail sent to all short- and longlisted entrants - and I continued with the horrible sense that it was all a mistake. Finally, though, came a reply to my mail confirming that I'd attend, and at last I was addressed by name, 'Dear Elizabeth', and I had to believe it after all.

Anyway, I am of course very pleased. It's so funny how different stories work out, though: the story I mentioned previously, inspired by the transgender/intersex issues, and conceived well before the V S Pritchett story, is still undergoing rewrites, still struggling out from under the research I did (and my struggling obsession with it is another reason there has been no space in my head for blogging). It's not always the case, but sometimes the things you do most swiftly and intuitively turn out to be the most successful...

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