Practically Ranting 4th of May 2017


Noting that many writing prizes don’t ‘quite fit’. Mostly, they are ‘legacy’ writing competitions that seek to ‘bring back the glory days’, i.e. the days when things had to be channeled through a publisher who had the capital to print the book, or (heaven forbid, all those pictures!), the graphic novel.

Take for example this guideline from one competition:

“This prize seeks work that is unlike any other. We want to hear from writers we’ve never read before, and we want writers we already know and love to challenge themselves to create work unlike any they’ve previously produced.

So far, so good, but then, in the very next Received Pronunciation breath:

“Submissions to this prize need to be able to be published on the printed page. We applaud the current focus and fascination with boundary-pushing non-fiction that is published online, but we still believe there’s scope to further experiment on the page, using facts, maybe-facts, words from life, journals, journalism, collage, theory, photography, illustration, tricks, arguments, etc. The essay, as the end of experience, is a malleable form, and we want to celebrate that with this prize.”

Are you kidding me? It’s 2017 people!!!

Next they’ll ask, “Can you please hold a moment, whilst we pause for scheduled maintenance on our printing presses?”

Here’s a practical tip:

PRACTICAL TIP: If they want the work to be ‘unlike any other’, surely they need to change such that their parameters are unlike any other.

A famous scientist once said, ‘The purest form of insanity is to leave everything the same and the same time hope that things will change.”

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