Today, 5pm, Friday the 13th, sees the close of vicbooks’ first Scrawl writing competition.
In both competition formats we got a rude surprise on the last two days when we opened the scrawl email account to find a deluge of entries; poems and stories that had been held back for that final polish or hurried edit, fairly bursting the seams of our inbox. A hugely gratifying thing to find.
It’s surprisingly hard to organise this sort of thing (something we were blissfully unaware of) and our somewhat hurried approached, i.e. we thought the competition a good idea, did some hurried google searches, approached one organisation (Booksellers NZ, who were pretty damn helpful), one magazine/newspaper (Salient, who were very forgiving and extremely accommodating) and two judges (Jenny Bornholdt & Laura Kroetsch, who each endeared and surprised us with their generosity of time and expertise). We bundled it all together, flung it out to the webisphere and hoped for a few entries. We thought a nice little competition for the student population this year could be followed next year with a more grand affair, maybe with better publicity and some bigger prizes. What we got was several hundred entries made up of around 100,000 words.
When we discussed it beforehand we thought the quality of entries might be mixed. We expected the whole gamut of skill, from the awful to the inspired – this idea excited us and was the very reason we limited entrants to undergraduates; we wanted the raw and enthusiastic, we wanted stories, words and ideas of the uninitiated. We wanted the results of a basic desire to write and express. And we got more than we bargained for, more entries, more skill, more enthusiasm. Picking a winner and runners-up was extremely hard for poetry, and is going to prove just as difficult for the short stories, many of which are very, very good. We’re really grateful for the experience and very keen to see what happens next year.
So, thanks to all those who entered and, for those who will be with us next year, keep us and next years competition in mind as you scrawl your way through your thoughts and imaginings.
Keep your eyes open, we’ll be announcing the 2010 scrawl short story winner on September 1st.