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  • Writer's pictureGareth Williams

Scottish Association of Writers Annual Conference 2024

It was great to meet up with so many writers at the recent conference. Let's face it, writing is a solitary game so it's good to be reminded there are other oddities like me out there beavering away!

This year, I decided to enter lots of the writing competitions associated with the conference - including formats I had never tried before. These included humour, flash fiction and monologues.

I thought I would share some of the feedback and a few examples of what I wrote. This week I'm going to concentrate on what went well but in my next post I'm going to share some of the more critical comments I received.

One of the themes of the speakers at conference was how valuable feedback is and how we have to learn to accept it and use it to get better. This is my way of recognising that truth and trying to get a bit thicker skinned!

Ironically, my best received piece was a 250 word flash fiction (genuinely the first I have ever attempted) which was set in and around the village of Sconser, where I live on the Isle of Skye.

So here is my entry, which was adapted from a 730 word piece I wrote to perform at Angus BookFest 2023:

Closing My Eyes

The Northern Lights pulse. An iridescent curtain so thin that beings cross to live among us. As children we tell tales and receive indulgent smiles. If we persist, we are hushed and keep quiet. We see less and less, until it is as if we never glimpsed that other world.

We find another and love weaves us into the warp and weft of our lives until the cloth is complete and we are no more.

But a few do not seek such comfort. I thought I was one. But now I stroke the soft cheek of my child and bite my tongue. Before I turn my back, I will preserve the truth, and a splinter of self-respect.

Sconser is small, windy and wet, squeezed between red hills and the sea. Dragons roost in a quarry above the golf course where silvered elves wield clubs with quarrelsome beauty. A troll snuffles beneath the bridge and aurochs feed on the flanks of the hills while dwarves mine deep below.

Sea kelpies frolic in the narrows, raiding fish farms, tearing nets and stalking the shore. Goblins with green fingers weed and blight as they see fit. Capricious creatures who bless one year and curse the next. When your dog barks at nothing, know the truth.

The inexplicably lost ring. Odd tracks in fresh-turned earth. An unexpected blonde child. Sour milk. A leak that stops. Puppies with wrong-coloured eyes. Treasure in the loft.

We see what we want to see.    

Here are some comments from the adjudicators who felt it was one of the top six out of more than fifty entries:

The narrative voice is strong. Lovely sense of a world that most of us don't see. The tone is beautifully melancholic. While the ideas of elves and goblins aren't new, the writing is so strong that it doesn't matter. The reader is taken on a journey. We particularly liked the way the fantastical is blended with the everyday.      

I am particularly pleased with this feedback as I am working on a novel-length version that builds on this vignette. Do let me know what you think.


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1 comentário

Rachael and Nat Ravenlock
Rachael and Nat Ravenlock
01 de abr.

The language is evocative and the eerie atmosphere seeps into the bones when reading. The story has a strong poetic quality and I'm looking forward to the longer piece to see where the narrative leads.

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