I recently was fortunate enough to be a judge for a short story competition run by Chris Fielden called 'To Hull and Back':
It was an amazing experience. I've entered so many competitions myself so it's interesting to be on the other side, but I certainly realised how much competition there is out there.
On one hand it's heartbreaking to know that your beloved baby of a story might get marked down because of the tiniest of little things, because judges do have to look for the tiniest little things when there are twenty stories which show true talent. On the other hand, it's wonderful to see so much creative talent out there!
I found that it's strangely similar to a situation I have at work at the moment - recruiting a new member of staff. I sit there in the interviews, as I did whilst judging the competition, wondering how on Earth can I judge? These are all such talented people, and I certainly wouldn't want to be nit-picking, but such a high standard often forces us to. When trying not to, the decision could inevitably come down to, albeit subconsciously, your mood on the day.
I was pleased to see that Chris Fielden had decided to use multiple judges for his competition, including myself and a few others from my writing group. At least this makes it as fair as possible. Personally, I think that with any story, novel, piece of art, job application - whatever it is - that is submitted somewhere; it will work out when it's your time.
"This sounds like one of those cheesy 'everything happens for a reason' moments," I hear you cry! Well, we certainly have no control over if we are picked, but we can control our reasoning if we are not. If you are not picked/published/hired on any particular occasion, it is not a reflection on you as a person. It purely means that one particular opportunity wasn't quite right for you at that time, and there are plenty more which might come. The judges may well have loved your story too, so never take rejection to mean that your work was not good or that you were not liked.
Ultimately, you just need to keep trying. Persevere and believe in yourself, and your time will come. At least that's what I keep telling myself!
I didn’t quite mean for this blog to become one big feminist rant, but there we go. If you are reading this, it’s probably because you want to read such things…so I’ll continue.
Today I met a lady in a charity shop who told me that she was being bullied for having facial hair.
It got me thinking about how bonkers the distribution of hair on our body is, and society’s views towards it.
Let’s use some bullet points to really break this down:
Today, whilst in a shopping centre, I went to relieve ones self in the delightful lavatories. I sat and embarked on a much-needed wee, only to find an advert for a boob job in my face.
We cant even piss in peace without abrasive marketing ploys thrust at us now!
I wondered how many women and girls, CHILDREN even, had used that toilet and looked up at that advert. I wonder how many of them had been shopping and found something was maybe that bit too tight around their belly, or that bit too baggy around their boobs. Not feeling too body confident. Maybe their friends are a bit skinnier. Maybe they saw yet another picture of Kim Kardashian virtually naked on Instagram that morning.
And all these images, all these thoughts, all this opinions and judgments and stereotypes and expectataions all drip, drip, dripping into their minds.
They might feel down, miserable; they've had enough.
Then they see this woman, on the back of the toilet door; she's pretty and smiling and radiant and there's a quote 'I finally feel confident and happy about my body.'
It's solved all the problems in her life, obviously.
The woman looking at that who is still traumatised even years on by her school bullies might remember the name of the clinic to look it up when she gets home.
The teenager might punch the website in her phone in the time it takes her to wee.
The child may look up at it and take note; it may sew a seed so that later in life when she realises her breasts are not as large as the media and society expects them to be, then she'll remember what can solve all her problems.
Today, when I started at that I got mad. I really wanted to enjoy that long wee. I found a pen in my bag but it wouldn't work when I tried to write on it. Of course, they'll have taken precautions for that.
If I could have written over it, I may have written 'all I wanted was a peaceful piss.'
'Go spend the money on a decent therapist instead, love.'