Greetings! I’m Alex Reece Abbott and I’m delighted to join the Hysterectomy Association as the third Writer in Residence. And we’re counting down to the Sixth International Hysteria Writing Competition for women writers.
- Don’t forget, Hysteria opens on 01 April 2017 with a deadline of 31 August 2017 GMT
- No theme, beyond simply “things of interest to women”
- No limits on your number of entries
- And yes, you can enter all three categories
- Flash – 250 words
- Short Story – 2,000 words
- Poetry – 20 lines
It’s an international competition, so I’ve invited women from around the world who are prize-winning judges and teachers (and writers!) of flash, short fiction and poetry to share the three things they’d say to help you improve your work in each genre – often (they tell me) prompts that they re-visit for their own work.
The response has been fantastic – special thanks to these amazing women, who so generously – and without a moment of hysteria – are giving their time and hot tips and exercises to support the competition this year. I’ll be saying more about them soon. And, in and among these genre pointers and exercises, I’ll also be posting about judging, goals, and resilience in writing.
I like the structure and deadlines of competitions. Themes can be very generative too (although, as I noted, the Hysteria competitions are unthemed). I’ve worked with stories in one form or another for most of my life, and began focussing on creative writing about ten years ago. My first competition entry was highly commended, the next one placed runner-up, the next one won. Then, I had a story published in a competition anthology (proper ISBN and all) while I was completing an MA in Creative Writing. I’ve carried on from there, learning through the Arvon Foundation and a wide range of other short courses – some of the best online.
Like my reading, my fiction writing spans micro, flash, short stories, novellas and novels – both contemporary and historical. I range over genres, including crime; I love noir. Although it’s a craft I haven’t seriously approached yet, I love reading and listening to poetry too, and I admire poets greatly for their ability to distil.
Last year, my historical literary crime novel, The Helpmeet, was a winner in the Greenbean Irish Novel Fair. My contemporary women’s fiction, Welcome Back, Stranger has shortlisted for several prizes and I’m redrafting it now. My short fiction has been a winner in the Northern Crime Competition and the Arvon Prize, and is often shortlisted, including for the Sunday Business Post/Penguin Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize, Fish, Mslexia, the Society of Authors Margot Manchester Award and the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition.
A range of my stories have recently been published around the world (or are upcoming) in London Journal of Fiction, the Katherine Mansfield Society: CreativeWork, Headland Journal, Takahe Magazine, the Maine Review, Hypertext, Pure Slush, Spelk Magazine, Flash Frontier, The Nottingham Review, Halo Magazine, FlashFlood, To Bring Her Home: the 2016 Bath Flash Fiction Anthology, the Furious Hope Anthology, and Landmarks: The 2015 National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology, among others.
I started off writing with my South Pacific version of RM Ballantyne’s, The Coral Island, but got stuck researching breadfruit. Hey, I was only eight. In high school I won a prose prize – a fat, black anthology of Katherine Mansfield’s work.
I went on to train as a journalist, which taught me a lot about structure – and I received that great, timeless wisdom: “Just start!” That stuck with me. Nothing like procrastinating over the perfect intro to kill off a good idea – and nothing like a deadline to motivate you.
And, great good luck with your entries in the Sixth International Hysteria Writing competition. Our judges are looking forward to reading your work – and counting down to August 31 :D.
Go for it!
PS: why not download my TEN TACTICS FOR WRITERS document