“A non – professional writer means a person who has never received a fee for their work, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Prize money received as a result of entering work into a competition is not considered a fee. “
I was thinking of entering a short story competition I came across recently on the Internet. Two things I ask from competitions: do they charge an entry fee and can I send my entry by email.
These are not set in stone. I enter a number of competitions where there is an entry fee and quite a few where the organisers ask for postal entries. It’s just easier for me if I can work on screen rather than print off a story, find an envelope and a stamp and trek to the post office.
In the competition I was considering I got as far as reading the Terms and Conditions. (Advice to writers and comp entrants: always read the T&Cs ideally before you’ve started to work on your entry.) I found the condition quoted above defining a “professional writer” . The competition did not accept entries from “professional writers.”
Some time ago I wrote a regular column for my local weekly paper. They paid me. Not a vast amount, but they paid me. I’ve also had a number of poems printed in a magazine called “Quantum Leap”. It runs competitions but also pays for poems submitted on spec and published. Unusual among poetry magazines. Often editors regard a poet as an unworldly creature who doesn’t want to be paid and is quite happy to work for nothing or just for the honour of appearing in print.
I wouldn’t have said the small monetary rewards from these two sources make me a “professional writer”. I am hardly in the same league as James Patterson or Margaret Atwood. But apparently I am not elegible for this competition. A pity. Think what Dragonfly tea and the Henley Literary Festival are missing!
I’ve time to spare.
to do and dare
I’ve time to share
I brush my hair
What shall I wear?
the forecast’s fair
“Begone dull care”
The Bard once said. Depends
if weight of care
can bring despair
so I don’t dare
to leave my lair
or climb the stair
to reach the rainbow’s end.
I yearn to be
I’ll learn to be
“Frailty, thy name is woman”
Shakespeare, or rather Hamlet, lamenting the fact that his mother had married his uncle very soon after his father’s death. Today I think we’d call Gertrude treacherous and wicked rather than frail. To me the term “frail” conjures up a person man or woman, who is physically weak, probably elderly and easily swayed by a stronger personality.
The term that goes most often with “frail” is “old lady”. A doddery old woman tottering along with the help of a stick, speaking in a low croaky voice and generally overlooked and disregarded by those around her.
I’ve dealt with this situation in several pieces of fiction I’ve written where an old lady is being bossed about (usually by her daughter}. This “frail” character develops unsuspected strength and ingenuity when dealing with an unforeseen problem. The chararacter of the little old lady with hidden depths is, I think, sadly overlooked in popular fiction.
Nowadays we have become used to strong women in postions of authority, Margaret Thatcher, for instance, and of course our new Prime Minister. By no stretch of the imagination could either of these women be described as “frail”.
A frantic rush to get away from it all,
snap shut the suitcase lid,
close it down on the daily frustrations,
thinking to escape by keeping on,
moving on, searching for a new place,
new sights, new sounds, new feelings,
till the travel becomes an end in itself.
The journey becomes its own justification.
Its own metaphor for the journey through life.
The mad dash down the motorway,
tantalising wait in traffic jam,
the struggle to escape from thinking
by moving on
never realising – or never admitting –
that it can’t be done.
A giggling gaggle
Trouble with a capital T