I recently made a short address on behalf of the readers of entries for the Rotorua Short Story Competition. Writers and the families and friends gathered at the Rotorua Public Library on 14 June 2012, where Dame Fiona Kidman announced the first and second prize winners. I was asked to help explain the process our group of four readers went through to select the top 10 stories for Dame Fiona.
Firstly, I’d just like to thank Bev Emmerson [Community Librarian] for that introduction. It’s great that this story writing competition has been resurrected.
It is important to encourage writing AND reading.
I saw an article recently about publishing…asking…‘are libraries good or bad for booksellers? And are libraries good or bad for authors?
However, the writer said the real competition for booksellers, publishers AND libraries is NOT READING.
More and more people use devices such as smart phones, TV, DVDs, Twitter and Facebook…so just getting people to read your story is becoming increasingly challenging.
It was a real joy to see the number of entries in this competition…eighty two…and the diversity of the topics.
This was a short story competition but we received writing in a number of forms – poems and memoirs included. Just whether a poem qualifies as a short story is a good topic for a discussion at some stage.
Here at the library, Bev received the stories, compiled them into folders of ten at a time and circulated them to the readers.
We read each of the stories…using a sheet to give them marks for performance in various areas.
This included looking at how each story started to how it ended…the dialogue and how this was used in telling the story…and plot and other elements.
Now this might seem rather subjective or even arbitrary… but it was amazing how much we had in common when we came together to select the final 10 stories.
Led by Jackie, we each made a list of our choices for top 10; then grafted those together to see where there was a common thinking.
Each of us had favourites which may not have been selected by other readers…or those we thought might be lacking in some way…but showed sufficient merit to warrant going into the final ten for the attention of the chief judge.
Reading and writing are known as lonely activities…so from a personal viewpoint it was great to have the opportunity to work with Jackie Hall, Heather Foley and Shari Cole from the Rotorua Writers Group.
I enjoyed the process and drew personal satisfaction of seeing writing from a wide spectrum of people in Rotorua.
It is winter and the All Blacks are in full swing with games against the Irish so…
If the readers were like the forward pack…with Bev as our Richie McCaw…then could I suggest that maybe Dame Fiona is our Dan Carter?
Well, thanks to all of you who submitted stories…and please keep writing.