Sunday, 16 December 2012

My take on a Royal Proclamation which has been circulated...

Proclamation to the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In light of the following three factors:
1                  your insistence on winning the majority of the Olympic medals even though the recent games took place in Great Britain and not in some backwater American State,

2                your failure to control your urges to acquire all the oil resources on the planet and

3                 your proclivity (despite having two elected governing houses when it should be obvious that one is too many) for usually electing incompetent politicians who are only in it for the money and are in all cases incapable of believing that there is a world beyond the US borders (i.e. the Olympics have not just been superbly produced in London, England, but in London. Full Stop.);
The Tower of London.

you have proved incapable of governing yourselves; we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, this revocation to take immediate effect (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary, all other dictionaries are inaccurate and will be abolished).
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and territories within the borders of the former United States (except for Alaska, which she does not want and will be returned to the natives).
 Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will consult Her Majesty the Queen on the appointment of a Governor for Northern America (excluding Alaska [see above]) without the need for further elections. The current U.S. president may apply for the position provided he drops the idea of being a ‘democrat’. No ‘republican’ may apply, Great Britain is a Monarchy not a ‘republic’.
Congress and the Senate will be dis-established. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you have noticed. Each former state will become a County and may elect a County Council. Former ‘counties’ will, depending on their size, become either Parishes or Rural Districts, with the sole exception of Hazzard County, which is amusing.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Do you enter Writing Competitions? Don't dismiss the small ones!

I do enter writing competitions, I've had a go at dozens over past years. Mostly I never even know if my manuscript or email has reached the correct location and not exceeded the deadline. Those who run competitions obviously can't notify all who enter and don't win, but it is frustrating never knowing.

However I'm not saying there's no point in entering competitions. I have been told I was on a long list years ago and once I was even on a shortlist and very close, but my short story didn't quite fit with the others which were all to be published together in a magazine. So that was that.

And once I was joint winner! It was a local playwriting competition for scripts of up to one hour, and there were not hundreds of entries. However there were two winners and the prize wasn't cash, but much more valuable than a couple of hundred quid. My play was joint winner with Andrew Crowther's Funny Men. We both got to see and participate in full productions of our plays as part of the Snowgoose New Writing Festival in Bradford in 2008.

The Single Utamaro at the Carriageworks Theatre,
Leeds & Bradford Playhouse in June 2011
cast: l-r Richard Houghton-Evans as Chas,
Steph Lodge as Martha and Harry Venet as Benedict
My play was called 'The Single Utamaro'. The whole process was extremely rewarding. I helped with the set and props but the directing was done by an expert, Audrey Caldron. I learnt a huge amount and after two re-writes the play was revived three years later with a largely new cast and I directed. I've written other plays since but the Utamaro* is still a piece of writing which I'm very close to.

So forget the Mann Booker prize, entries for that have to be submitted by a publisher anyhow! Get involved with smaller competitions run by groups and organisations nearby. The fact that there will be less competition for the prizes doesn't imply that it's not worth entering. There's more chance that you will get valuable experience and recognition. This doesn't mean you don't have to be a really good, conscientious writer. It does mean there's more chance of your good writing being noticed.

*Utamaro was an eighteenth century Japanese painter and printmaker who was famous for creating exquisite images of beautiful women.