I found a second shortlisting 💜🤔

I’m not looking at things with enough care. I mean who misses their own success?

I’m going to blame a ridiculous amount of lost sleep on the problem. Tiredness is making me clumsy, stuttery, careless and forgetful. I’m also cranky and paranoid. Who wouldn’t want to live with me? Lol.

I found, randomly, a shortlisting I hadn’t noticed before. I’d already found a shortlisted entry for this competition and ASSUMED you could only get one at a time. Apparantly I was wrong. Finding it felt like I’d rummaged through my parents wardrobe and found the presents. Like I’d been caught trying on my sisters make up. Then I realised it was allowed and I felt like I’d found a £10 note and this time I got to keep it!

Back we go to the Tortive Theatre website where, during the October competition I was awarded not 1, but 2 shortlistings! My first (The Power of a Personal Assistant) can be found here, along with a bit more information about the entry.

My second, sneaky, secretive shortlisting was the same format – 101 words exactly, any genre, using the topic ‘When I snap my fingers you’ll…’.

This piece of flash fiction had a slightly darker tone to the cheeky ‘personal assistant’ story, as you will see when you read it. I don’t want to give anything away.

It’s strangely nice to have the unique opportunity to compare two stories that were created for the same purpose and look at the differences and the reasons why they both worked on this occasion. Looking at the two I can see a distinct difference in the tone of each and the uneasy way you feel with one and the happiness you feel with the other. You are on their side, you want them to win, but there is a twist with each that is unexpected.

I’ve been learning a lot about twists and how to create them without the outcome being obvious or prematurely assumed by the reader. It’s such a skill to be able to find those plot changes and work out how and when to reveal them. You have to find the perfect moment. It’s crucial to making a story fun and willing the reader to come back to read the work again and again. Maybe the reader thinks it’s so good that they recommend it to someone else and before you know it, people are looking for other things you’ve written. You don’t have to force your work on people.

That natural interest in your work is probably something really amazing, popular and famous authors regularly enjoy. But I’m sure the pressure and worry to create stories that are as good as their best, time and time again, is pretty huge. Despite it being my most desired and dreamy outcome of all this hard work, I’m not sure I’d be any good at managing that pressure. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I get there before I worry about it. I swear I have an original novel somewhere in my head.

As a final note I wanted to mention the drawing I created to accompany this post. I’ve been reading a lot about manga art and learning how to create and draw characters in the style. I loved creating this drawing, especially the colours used that make it more vibrant. Obviously I still have many years of reading to do, but I thought I’d show you where I started. I realise my drawings don’t need to be perfect and / or polished for me to make them public and sometimes it’s nice to look back at where you were, because it helps you see how far you’ve come.

Proof of my (second) shortlisting can be seen here, and a copy of the story is below for you to read. It shouldn’t take more than a minute and hopefully you’ll enjoy it.


A Party of Addicts

She lay with her eyes closed.

It had been a week. This was getting harder.

“Breathe in deeply. Hold your breath. Slowly exhale. When I snap my fingers you’ll open your eyes. You’ll feel powerful, strong and ready to face life without cigarettes.”

Meditation over, she made her way to the party.

Once the food was eaten the difficulty started.

“I’m going for a ciggie. You coming?”

“No thanks”

Everyone followed without her. She sat alone.

She caved after 5 minutes. She’d rather have friends and smoke than be lonely.

Throat cancer took her 4 years later.

Her friends finally quit.


Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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