Orange trees, a letter, a fluffy fennel, a cake, a ghost, a romantic dinner, a dog, a cat, a simple stroll up a hillside - love indeed comes in many shapes and sizes, an adage underlined by many of the enjoyable flash fiction stories submitted for the third edition of our ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards’ (WAWA).
The stories we received also put an erroneous notion to bed - that love is an easily defined thing. The imaginative entries in our competition illustrated there is no strict universal definition of love but rather that it’s to be found in great abundance in ‘the little things.’ Because ‘the little things’ mean so much to so many in the imperfect world in which we live.
This was clearly illustrated in the diverse stories we received, ranging from the flitting of stomach butterflies in the fullness of first love to the poignancy of precious moments shared by longtime partners in those difficult moments in life when tenderness is most needed and often hardest to give. It was also shown in modern-day rom-com style scenarios that warmed our hearts and made us laugh.
Reading the stories, we were struck by the high number of ‘love lost’ stories, not so much love lost as in a relationship breaking up, though there was some of that too, but lost, or at least severely challenged, in the throes of sickness and death.
While there was plenty of nostalgia for a ‘golden’ past when loving someone was easy, there were also uplifting stories about selfless people simply ‘being there,’ kind-hearted individuals setting their own needs aside to care for others facing difficulties. Some stories also tackled the sensitive issue of loving oneself and becoming a better person as a result.
In terms of writing style, one characteristic that troubled us was the number of stories entered in the flash fiction competition that really belonged in our creative non-fiction category. As some of these stories would have been highly placed in the latter category, we felt deeply for the talented writers who had chosen the wrong category to submit their work. Our advice on this is simple: be acutely aware of the difference between flash fiction and creative non-fiction when you enter your valuable work in future competitions, you may be robbing yourself of a winning entry. To help you in this respect, it may be worth availing of our ‘One-to-One’ consultation services or/and having your entry thoroughly critiqued. Or even better, join us for one of our writing retreats.
Another issue we feel compelled to highlight is word count. Some stories unfortunately extended a considerable way beyond the designated word count, making them ineligible for the competition. While some writing competitions may allow a few excess words, none allow many. To be safe, best to stay below the limit. Some writers also used the word ‘love’ or a variation of it in their story.
After immense reading pleasure and lively discussion on the merits of story entries, we are delighted to name the ten finalists and the ultimate winner of our WAWA flash fiction competition on the theme of Love.
Our heartiest congratulations and 500 euro in prize money goes to the flash fiction competition winner, Deborah Mackie, for her story ‘A Letter to Her Husband’s Girlfriend.’
Our congratulations also go to the other excellent writers among the Top Ten finalists, all of whom will receive special certificates of recognition from ‘Ireland Writing Retreat.’
They include (in alphabetical order): Mary Bradford for ‘The Sponge Cake’
Jocelyn Doyle for ‘You’re So Cool’
Maria de Luca for ‘Be With You Again’
Eugene Luetkemeyer for ‘A Special Cake’
Emma M. Murray for ‘Heavy Truths’
Matthew T. Petersen for ‘Plant’
Annette J. Schmidt for ‘A Pyramidal View’
William Watt for ‘Le Jardin Ouvrier’
Samuel James Wilson for ‘Consommé’
With authors’ permission, the Top Ten stories will be published on the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ News section over the coming months.
And please, keep your quills polished and poised, we’ll be launching a special summer edition of the ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards’ within the next few weeks.