In the last eighteen months I've had stories published in five different anthologies. You already know that, because I've blown an arpeggio or two on my trumpet each time. Forgive me. I'm still thrilled. For a writer, there is nothing like the affirmation of publication.
I've been thinking about my five - three of them are the result of entering a competition. The fourth is because I'm a member of Exeter Writers. The group wished to showcase their work and the winners of their short story competitions. Then there's Cat Walks - a mini-anthology from the CreativeWritingMatters team.
But who buys them, and why? When was the last time you read a collection of short stories? I'd love to know. If you have - even in the distant past - do tell me, were the stories all by the same author or were they an anthology collected together for a particular reason? Would you seek out an anthology in a bookshop or would you buy one only if someone you knew was in it?
I ask these questions because - believe it or not - I love anthologies! I think it's such a treat reading the work of many different writers in one place. All those unique voices and stories, why is it that they aren't top of the reading charts?
I can quite understand the pleasure of reading a good novel - heavens, I haven't spent years of my life trying to get a novel published out of whimsy, but short fiction can be delicious. We don't eat three courses every mealtime, sometimes we have cake and the confectionary business wouldn't be thriving if we didn't like a sweet every now and then.
Besides the pleasure, reading short fiction can be hugely educational. A lovely student of mine who has moved away from this area - hello Kay! - recently emailed to say how much she had learnt from reading the stories in the Truly, Madly, Deeply anthology. When Margaret and I were discussing writing The Creative Writing Student's Handbook we agreed that reading the sort of thing you write is essential. Not to copy, of course, but to see how other writers wield the form.
The upshot of my enthusiasm for short fiction, is that I'm planning on publishing an anthology of short stories that have passed through the team's hands here at CreativeWritingMatters. It will include the Wow and Flash competition winners and the best of the rest (with their permission). More of that later in the year.
Don't forget the Wow! One thousand word competition closes at the end of May. You still have plenty of time but remember stories usually need polishing, so don't leave getting your first draft down to the last minute . Go HERE
To enter the Flash competition go HERE
For The Exeter Novel Prize go HERE