Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bridport Prize

It's summer. My car is hot. The dress code at work means no visible tattoos, and therefore long sleeves. While my colleagues drift about wearing cute cap-sleeve blouses, I'm tugging at the neckline of a little cardigan. (But do they have a large tiger crawling up their shoulder? No, readers, they do not. Therefore, on balance, I win.)

Yes, it would be smart to buy shirts. They're comfortable, they're cool. They let the air circulate. But like any other right-thinking individual, I resent spending money on clothes that are only to be worn in the workplace. That, dear readers, is why I rock up at my desk, with oft-worn threads hanging loosely from my elbows, and the seams of my trousers running threadbare at the thighs. I consider it my role in the workplace to play the part of the eccentric, crumpled hobo. This is also the reason my colleagues daily send me hilarious emails saying things like, "Don't worry, SJ, I've got an iron you can borrow".

Instead of buying appropriate workwear, I insist on wearing knitwear, which is also the reason why I come home most days smelling like a teenager after a Motley Crue concert. Summer is less good for writing than winter. The light reflects off your laptop screen and there's less romanticism to be had in writing in shorts and flip-flops than an aran jumper and a pair of fingerless gloves. It's a bit like cheating: if you can't see your breath solidifying in the air in front of you, how can you possibly expect anything you write to be any good? If you write in the afternoons and evenings after work, like I do, it's more or less a given that you can smell somebody's barbeque through the open window. The smell of charcoal and charred meat reaches your nose, and hark! - there's the sound of chinking beer bottles. Who on earth are these people, these so-called "neighbours", and who do they think they are, going around having so-called "fun"? DON'T THEY KNOW I'M TRYING TO WRITE A NOVEL??

All this can mean only one thing: it's Bridport Prize season. This year, there are categories for short fiction, flash fiction (1000 words or less!) and poetry. For those of us who are a bit wordy around the edges, it's also one of the more generous of the short-story competitions word-wise: 5000 words or less! Any subject!! Get your pens at the ready, it closes in two weeks (the 30th June). Judge this year is Zoe Heller.

Currently reading

The Long Firm Jake Arnott
Pratt A Manger David Nobbs
The Corner (yes, still)
When The Door Closed, It Was Dark Alison Moore, Nightjar Press

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