I Found Myself Lost – Pauline Masurel, Prose Winner 2021
I began writing fiction a long time ago and have written numerous short stories since then but my writing compass had rather lost its sense of direction in recent years. The Gloucestershire Writers Network competition was one of the spurs that I needed to go exploring with words again. Another was a hybrid writing course run online by Tania Hershman, which invited participants to unbox their words. So that’s what I tried to do when writing my entry, I Found Myself Lost. The theme of this year’s GWN competition also acted as an inspiration for the ending of the story.
I was delighted to learn that Debbie Young had judged my story to be the winning prose entry and very pleased to be asked to read it at The Cheltenham Literature Festival. The evening proved to be a wonderful selection of readings by poets and prose writers, combined with the launch of the Signposts anthology. My success in the competition was followed by an invitation to read at Stroud Short Stories and I have also written several other new stories this year. I think that I may now be obliged to admit that I find myself writing again.
Second time lucky - Sarah Hemings, Poetry Winner 2021
I was dashing out the door when my ’phone pinged to tell me that I’d won First Prize in the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network Poetry Competition with my poem, ‘Eastertide’. Now, this pleased me on many levels. Firstly, it’s always nice to win anything (particularly in the poetry world). Secondly, I had also won First Prize in 2019 (that halcyon, pre-pandemic era) with my poem, ‘Vestry’, so to win for a second time felt especially lucky. But I think the thing that thrilled me most this time was the thought that the judge, Carrie Etter, liked my poem. I have admired, and been inspired by, Carrie’s work for a long time now, and her choosing my poem made the win even more special.
As in 2019, I nearly didn’t enter the competition, thinking that I had nothing in my repertoire that corresponded to the theme of ‘Signposts’. It was only on looking through my folder of poems (after a long, hard think about the theme), that I realised that, in fact, I had two poems I could enter.
On the day of the reading, my partner and I were flying home from our holiday. Predictably, our flight was delayed and I ended up skidding inelegantly into the venue with a bare minute to spare (reader, my watch read 6.29pm). I was slightly breathless as I stood up to read, still in my travelling gear, my new dress still on the back seat of the car. All sent to try us. But it was a wonderful evening in the perfect setting of The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham. It felt so good to be back at an in-person event with my writing peers, reading, talking, buying books. Thank you to everyone involved.
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