EDitorial ± 1-Jul-2014

Felixstowe Book Festival 2014

Last year (2013), quite early on, I saw news of a book festival to be held in Felixstowe. I know. Ipswich has its Ip-art, of course, and even Ip-lit, but Felixstowe? Good on 'em. I fully intended to enter their short story competition but -- excuse klaxon -- I drew a blank with their "sense of place" theme. I fully intended to attend an event or two but, er, I didn't. Bad me.

Must have gone OK though 'cos it was back Back BACK for 2014. No better time, then, to make amends by (a) submitting a story and (b) turning up at least once over the weekend.

This year's short story theme: "conflict". Almost too open, that one. Also, length must be 1500-1800 words. Ooh. That's a lot for me. Plus, entries to be handed in (no email) at Felixstowe library by no later than Saturday 26th April.

I got an idea. I sketched out a plot of sorts. Along came Friday 25th, the night before -- no change to normal working methods -- and I sat me down at the dining table with pen and paper. Time already 10:30pm, everyone in bed. About four hours later I'd scrawled all over half-a-dozen sheets of paper. Typed it up, went to bed, up late morning to spend another couple of hours rewriting. Print, edit, make changes, repeat. Come 4pm me and The Boy pointed the car to the coast. First and most important stop, the library. Entry in with a comfortable 20 minutes to spare. Enormous sense of relief and satisfaction, though that could have been the Caffe Nero jolt and red velvet cake talking. That was that.

Come Saturday 28th June, I took the bike on the train to attend a really well-attended session on crime writing hosted by Ruth Dugdall and Alex Marwood. Great insights into the sometimes nasty world of research (can you put me in the car boot for 10 minutes?) and true-life crime.

Rewinding a couple of weeks, I'd mostly managed to forget about my relatively long work of fiction and move on to other, shorter, stories. Until, between World Cup matches, an email arrived:

I'm delighted to tell you that your story "According to Their Peacefulness" has won our story competition. We would love you to be at our closing event, the "Bedtime Story" on Sunday 29th evening at the Orwell Hotel.


So, once more accompanied by my mum, we had a lovely time at the aforementioned event. There were the winners of the children's poetry contest, reading some quality verse, then two adult runners-up, Kelly and Clare. Both read their own stories aloud. Both were terrific. Up there on the stage, I made it through all 1600 words of my piece. Still think that's a lot of words. Lord alone knows how anyone can write even a mid-length novel.

Want to read my story? That's very decent of you. Well, sorry, you can't yet. I'm waiting for it to appear in a future edition of Suffolk magazine. Once it does, I'll stick it here too.