Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Didn't Submit To This, But I Love This List

I'm just now catching up on my blog reading and learned about a new controversy involving an unawarded fiction prize. (Thanks to Ed Champion for schooling me.) Remember a few years ago when Zoo Press decided none of the entries in its fiction contest deserved the book prize?

It's happened again. This time it was the Willesden Herald, and I must say, if the contest was destined not to have a winner, then they handled it better than Zoo press. They offered to split the prize money among the finalists, and publish a list of their names. The finalists were too pissed to play along. They were mad at the judge, Zadie Smith, for not just picking someone. Understandable.

While it is hard to believe that a slush pile of 800 stories contains no winner, one benefit comes out of this contest, a very handy list of reasons short stories don't win contests. I'm saving this list. My favorite: number 23, Faux Jollity. "I think humour only ever exists in something that sets out to be serious. Anything that sets out to be humorous is doomed." I'm guilty of that crime, for sure, the desperate attempt at humor. Or humour, depending on where I'm sending the story.

And Zadie, I can't judge you. I didn't see the stories. I'm just glad I didn't submit.

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