Willesden Herald competition: update


February 6, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

According to their blog, they have decided to split the prize money among the shortlisted contestants. Which I applaud. Apparently there will be a further announcement made in the course of time, which I suppose could be anything from ‘we’ve chosen a winner after all’ to ‘we’re never running this again because we got so much flak for it’ or anything in between.

In relation to my discussion with Sally yesterday: nothing wrong with striving for excellence, and I’m sure we’ve all seen contests where the winning entries were dramatically underwhelming. However, if (as Sally pointed out) this competition is actively about ‘nurturing writers’, it seems counter-productive to demand a phenomenal level of excellence. The BBC short story prize requires you to be actively publishing in order to submit, and I presume that acts as a way of cutting out the less professional semi-pros (though people like me will still be able to submit). There’s probably a way of balancing the two, but being inclusive does have some drawbacks.

I guess the problem is: are the WH judges willing to award prizes (whether this year or in future) to the best of the stories they receive? Because they’re clearly setting a bar over which none of those 800 entries flew. Either they lower that bar (even a little), or they rejig their entry requirements. Because this middle ground isn’t happy for anyone.


One thought on “Willesden Herald competition: update

  1. SallyQ says:

    I’m not sure they could justify this happening again. Once is unfortunate. Twice will start to look as if Zadie Smith and the organisers really are demanding too much of the writers they say they want to ‘nuture’. They might have been able to hold onto credibility this time, but I’m not sure they’d survive another incident like this.

    I fear other competitions might follow suit though, with judges wanting to do a ‘Zadie’ and get themselves a bit of controversy in the process.

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Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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