It is short story competition season here in NZ with both the prestigious contests open now and I am struggling to decide what to enter. You see, I am a writer who lives in New Zealand, but I am not a New Zealand writer. My best story at the moment, and the one I probably should enter into the BNZ contest is an Australian story. I don't think there is a chance in hell that an Australian story will win a New Zealand writing competition. I thought about trying to change a few details, to try and force it to be a New Zealand story, but it won't work. The story is firmly grounded in its location (Bell's Beach) and there just is not a New Zealand equivalent. The characters are also very much Australian characters and to change them, make them Kiwis, I would have to change almost everything about them. So, not a good story for that contest. I will just have to try and find another place for that one.
I've been racking my brain, searching my portfolio, trying to find something. The entries close on the 23rd, so time is running out. I have plenty of stories, just nothing that seems to fit that contest. The stakes are high too. Because I'm now published, I have to enter the professional category so the prize is much bigger. Do I go for the fractured narrative of a woman in shock, discovering what it is she did? No. It's a great piece, but I think too confrontational for this particular contest. The musing on grief? Maybe. But I haven't even had that one critiqued by my publishing group yet, and I wouldn't dare submit anything that hadn't at least had a few of their eyes cast across it.
And what about the beach house stories? There are four of them now, and they are amongst my best stories. And my most popular. Plus, they are all New Zealand stories, at least in their setting. But I entered one of them last year in the novice division. Would it be foolish to enter another story with the same setting, the same characters into the same contest? Probably.
Somehow I feel so much more relaxed about the other contest, the one run by the Sunday newspaper. I think because you can enter more than one piece in that one it's less intimidating. I can select three or four quite different pieces and throw them at that one. Choosing just one story, and one that might end up being worth $10 000 is daunting!