Review of the Year, 2021 – Almost, but not quite, until…

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If one word could sum up my writing experience in 2021 it would be ‘almost’… but not quite – although, to be more accurate, all this was in the latter half of the year.

In the first few months (with a couple of exceptions), it was rejection after rejection… after rejection. I say this as a reminder to self, and to any other writers reading this: ‘never give up, keep on going’ – something I’ve written about before. True, the circumstances were exceptional – a second year of the pandemic – and I knew my writing was ‘up and down’ in quality, but it was very difficult to feel positive about my work.

Fortunately, I did keep going and things began to change. Acceptances for journals and anthologies started to happen, including some surprising ones, e.g. my first American journal acceptance; a poem! (Thank you, ‘Phantom Drift’ magazine, and Arachne Press’s A470 anthology). Most of these have not reached publication yet, but are on their way.

And then there were the competitions… This is where the ‘almost’ comes in. I was longlisted for the TSS Cambridge Short Story Prize, the award I gained third place in last year, but was very pleased with this year’s result, too; longlisted, then shortlisted for the SaveAsWriters International Story competition (*); in the top five per cent of the Bridport short story entries – a result I was thrilled about, being such an important competition. I was also thrilled to have not one, but two stories in the longlist of the Mslexia prize, the longlist being the top sixty out of 1800 entries. In between those two, there was a longlisting for the Grindstone Prize.

I’ve said before how I value being longlisted, but, of course, one can never be certain if a few tweaks to a story would have pushed it up to ‘winner’ status, or it’s simply a question of the judge’s taste… or, as some think, all no more than a lottery.

I, however, was certainly pleased with these results, as I was ‘almost’ a winner, but not quite.

Until, in December, the results of the Cinnamon Press Literature Award arrived!



What a wonderful end to a year that had begun so badly – or to any year, really!

With thanks to my readers, and hoping for better times ahead for them, and everyone.

(*) I was away when the announcements for this competition were made, and I missed the full adjudication of the stories, including these kind words about my entry, by judge Amy Sackville. ‘This was a gorgeous, lyrical homage to Derek Jarman and his garden on the Kent coast at Dungeness. The spareness and economy of the structure evokes wonderfully the landscape, the beauty of Jarman’s work, and the painful retreat from life that it depicts.’ Thank you!