I was skimming through some dusty old computer files the other day and came across a slightly promising file labelled Short Stories.
At some point in the past - what on earth possessed me? - I decided to try my hand at that venerable but highly complicated form, the short story. Some of my efforts were published in American anthologies a while ago and promptly fell through a hole in the universe. Others remain unpublished, probably because I'm not terribly good at sending work out once it's finished. Or perhaps because some of those stories had minor problems which had to be sorted before they could be submitted, and of course I lost interest or moved on to some new project, and so the stories were left to gather cyber dust in some abandoned file.
But I've finally decided to dust them off, see if anything can be fixed, and send them out. But where should I submit them?
It's notoriously hard to place short stories, especially non-genre, i.e. 'literary' stories, which most of these unpublished ones are. I'm sure some of the regular readers of this blog could advise me with a few places, in print or online, which take short stories. Preferably places which pay, but I'd be happy with non-paying places for the moment, on the grounds that any publication is better than none!
I notice, for instance, that the estimable Mslexia has a short story competition open at the moment.
So maybe after my cyber-dusting, or rearranging, or complete disembowelling, and last minute polishing, one or maybe even two of these offerings may make their way over to Mslexia in the hope of catching the judge's eye. This, regardless of the fact that all competition wins are utterly random. (Though, of course, when you win one yourself, it was all down to talent!)
Stories can be up to 2,200 words on any topic.
Judge: Helen Simpson
First prize: £2,000 plus a one week retreat and a day with a Virago editor.
Second Prize: £500
Third Prize: £250
3 x other finalists: £100 each
Fee: £8 per story
Deadline: 23rd January 2009
Carole Blake of Blake Friedmann will read all the winning stories.
Visit Mslexia for details of how to enter.