BBC Radio 2 is running their short-story writing competition for children again. “500 Words” is open for children aged between 5 & 13 to write a short story, about anything they like, up to 500 words long. Simples.
Why wasn’t this around when I was little? Then again, why wasn’t the whole internet around when I was little? It seemed…no, it was…so much harder to find information back then. There are so many opportunities these days for anyone; without having to go searching or subscribing to magazines or waiting for the school to subscribe to something and submit you.
I remember subscribing to “Writer’s News” and searching avidly through the pages for any hint of writing competitions/ I can remember sitting for hours in a dark corner of the library having discovered Spotlight (the directory of professional actors) and dreaming of one day being listed in there. (It’s now online and a lot of aspiring actors don’t even know that it was once a thick reference catalogue).
There is a lot of dross out there on the internet, of course, but there are so many opportunities and yes, ease of access to all of these opportunities does mean heightened competition; so if winning were down to chance alone, the odds are further against you. However, with luck, talent will shine through just enough to make it past each judging stage and may just get some recognition.
So, point in favour of T’internet. Just don’t read the comments…
I’ve just submitted #2’s story, written last year after last year’s competition had ended; and they’ve issued a certificate of participation already. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that it doesn’t seem petty or condescending at all. It’s not overly sentimental. It simply certifies that #2 named on the downloadable PDF certificate is “an official storywriter for 500 words 2017”.
I’m quite proud of #2 to be honest. No help required in foremulating the story; bar from me asking “so, what happened next?” at certain points to prompt the continuation of the story. Then we sat together and typed it out and read it back to each other so it made some kind of sense.
However, point #2 in favour of the internet (supported by the amount of homework they are sent home with which requires ‘logging on to xxx app we’ve been using in class and completing the tasks/games/assignments); even if it were not so easy to create a story from scratch, there are plentiful online resources, for child and adult writers alike; with prompts and advice; like this one for example.
I’ve taken the tribe to the library a couple of times. And they love books and stories and so on. But I’m suddenly feeling a nostalgia for dusty old reference libraries; but more importantly, the effort it took to actually find a piece of information. Sometimes, it seems to easy just to have it at your fingertips, like we’re somehow cheating.
Enough of my musing for now – good luck to any and all participants in this year’s 500 words. I’m still slightly miffed that I don’t remember it being this easy when I was younger!