This is the first in a series of interviews with the CFLA 2017 award winners. Today, we begin with Pauline Walker who won the Platinum prize for her atmospheric flash fiction piece, The Wait. Pauline offers some sage advice and lets us in on what she’s been up to since walking away with the prize.
Q1: Can you tell us a little about your experience as a writer to date?
I’ve had a sonnet commissioned by Tangle International to respond to the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King ‘I have a Dream’ speech. The project, Dream Nation, toured the south west of England: http://www.tangleinternational.com/productions/i-have-a-dream-2013/
I’ve also had a short story published in the anthology Shortest Day Longest Night by Arachne Press: https://arachnepress.com/books/short-stories/shortest-day-longest-night/
I attended The Novel Studio run by City, University of London in 2016-17 and am writing a novel, working title: The Truthteller’s Tale. I formed a writer’s group with the writers I met on the course. We’re called Mystic Pandas.
I’m about to embark on a mentorship with TLC part of my prize for winning the CFLA, working on my novel.
Q2: You were a prize winner in our 2017 competition. Can you remember what encouraged you to enter the competition?
I liked the idea that the Award is specifically targeted at writers who are under-represented in the UK’s publishing landscape which I think is important; to encourage more diverse writers which actually reflects the society we live in. The professional development given as part of the prizes was also a draw to enter along with the chance of my short story being published in an anthology alongside Kit de Waal and Sabrina Mahfouz. Also I had entered another story in a previous year but didn’t reach the shortlist so I thought I’d try again with a new piece!
Q3: What would you say to someone who is considering entering the competition, but is unsure whether they have enough experience as a writer?
Gird your loins and go for it. Work on your piece until you think it’s the best it can be and then find one or two people, who aren’t friends or a family member, to read it and to tell you how they felt when they read it. Then trust your instincts, do you feel it needs more work or is it ready to go? Whatever the outcome you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will have let go your baby – vital so you can move on with your writing. And as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t succeed, keep writing and try again the following year. I repeat: gird your loins and send it in.
Q4: What’s your one big tip for a new writer?
Keep dreaming, keep imagining, keep writing, keep going.
Our FREE to enter annual competition opened on 3 April. There are over £7,500 worth of cash and writer development prizes up for grabs.
We’re looking for broad interpretations of the theme – Chemistry – in all genres of short fiction and poetry. In poetry we’re looking for a maximum of 200 words and in prose a maximum of 1,000 words. Here’s a piece on inspiration – should you need it!
If you’d like to enter CFLA 2018, the theme is Chemistry and you can enter online here: https://literary.creativefuture.org.uk/how-to-apply/