Awarded Hemingway Short Story Prize: ‘The First Draft of Anything is Shit’

Actress Gayla Morgan reads my story at Key West’s Hemingway Days Festival.

My short story ‘The Telephone Man’ has been awarded first place in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. I am delighted – it’s wonderful news to receive while on my RLS fellowship in a hot, sunny and thunder-stormy France. News like this always nudges me forwards again, but especially this time as I have a real fondness for this short story. First drafted more than three years ago, this story has been a long time honing, revising, shifting, becoming what it wanted to be.  And so this story reminds me of Hemingway’s wonderfully blunt, throat-clearing homily to all writers:  ‘the first draft of anything is shit’. Hang those words next to your desk. Look at them every day. It’s okay for first drafts to be shit. The writing is in the rewriting. And I love the rewriting. I’m also fond of this story’s main character, a young boy beginning to realise his own powerlessness in the face of his parents’ unhappiness. And their unhappiness, of course, is his. The only person he can think to turn to is his favourite comic-book superhero. Maybe he’s a character after my writer’s and reader’s heart: a character who seeks solace in the imagined. But now, this story is no longer just mine to imagine.  Thanks to the Lorian Hemingway competition, I can let this story go knock on others’ doors now. The story will appear in the winter 2013 issue of the American journal, Cutthroat. The Lorian Hemingway Competition is an international prize, founded and judged by Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter and has been going now for over thirty years. This year, they received almost 1200 entries. The competition is open to emerging writers and gifts the winner a $1500 cash prize and publication in Cutthroat: A Journal for the Arts Go do your work, my little story!