Huge thanks to brave judge, Western Australian author, Susan Midalia and the Fellowship of Australian Writers Western Australia for yet another successful Stuart Hadow Short Story competition. The competition has encouraged Australian writers since 1977 and continues to draw a growing field of entries every year – this year 182. I am the very grateful and more than slightly stunned recipient of the first prize for 2021.
The success is particularly welcome as I seriously considered not entering the story “The Astrophysics of Love”.
Writers are known for being somewhat fanciful, but this story (I thought) pushed the boundaries between vaguely coherent ideas and being obtuse and difficult to follow. I have lately been fascinated by, and reading around, a possible relationship between human consciousness and quantum physics. That theory suggests that, at an atomic level, our sense of ourselves and human connection may be influenced by quantum level energy.
And, hey! … let’s throw in the odd … ummm … character twist … and stand a good chance of losing the reader in record time. How quickly can I confuse everyone? Just watch!! However, I’m a little reassured by a quote by American novelist and columnist Walter Kirns:
Short stories are fiction’s R & D department, and failed or less-than-conclusive
experiments are not just to be expected but to be hoped for.
So sometimes, just going for it is the thing.
Novels have breadth and scope. With fifty, eighty or one hundred thousand words to develop character, plot, action and theme there is time to work on all four. It is a long-table dinner, finely set with shining cutlery, crisp linen and course after course around languorous conversations. But to squeeze in rounded-off ideas and (hopefully) evoke emotion in 2,500 – 3,000 words requires its own rigorous planning. The short story feels more like walking into a crowded room, setting off a party popper and saying, ‘Well, what do you think of that?!!”
Over the next few months, I will have the opportunity of a two week residency at historic Mattie Furphy House in its beautiful coastal setting in Swanbourne.
The Fellowship plays a vital role in providing connections and community for Western Australian writers and readers. Congratulations also to my fellow shortlistees. It was wonderful to hear some of the readings at the presentation. Judge’s report and list of entries.
Image: Fellowship of Australian Writers Western Australia website