Sunday, 2 September 2012

Life Imitating Art

One of the features of the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference is the annual Chairman's competition for the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. This is only open to members of the RNA attending the conference, and usually takes the form of a chapter of a novel or a short story.

The 2012 competition was for a short story in which an animal played an integral part.

Being up to my eyes in conference administration without a single animal idea in my head, I decided to leave it for this year. But then this insane first line crept stealthily into my head...

Any writer will know what happened next. I abandoned the admin and wrote. And I have to say I felt MUCH better once I'd finished, even though it was a completely mad story.

It didn't win, but it did come fourth (after Alison Maynard, Judy Astley and, er, someone I've forgotten, sorry). So I expanded it a bit, polished it some more and sent it off to Woman's Weekly, who bought it.

So when you read the opening line, just remember that I WROTE IT FIRST

Pardon? You don't understand? What am I talking about? Oh, silly me...

The insane first line in question is:

"It's about the lion," said the woman on the doorstep.

and what was in the news on the bank holiday weekend just gone? That's right, a lion sighting in Essex...

Life imitating art, see?



Jenny Haddon said...

So you have magical powers of prophesy? Or did your story bring it into being?

Better write one about a lost lion returning to its own universe pdq.

Jan Jones said...

It's happened a number of times, actually!

Sadly not with the one about Mr Darcy turning up on the heroine's doorstep ready to whisk her off on a Valentine date...

verytessatangent said...

Just shows we should mostly follow those hunches. Well done on your short story's success!

My uncanny or topical first lines have often meant the coincidence of some disaster on the subject, e.g. I wrote "The monsoon kicked off in the usual way", on Boxing Day 2004; yes, the day we heard about the tsunami on the coast of Thailand and around the Far East.

Anyway, I take it you are now answering to the name of Mystic Jan? Could you let us know over here in Essex when you have any more of those first line hunches?

Heather (@TessaTangent)