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.