Monday, 3 April 2017
Melissa Fu on winning the 2016 regional prize of the Words And Women’s prose competition
‘I am delighted to have won Words And Women’s 2016 Regional Prize with my piece of creative non-fiction, Suite for my Father. The Words And Women prose competition is especially dear to me because I saw a flyer in 2013 at a local bookstore for the inaugural competition and it felt so encouraging and welcoming that I decided to send in some writing.
Entering that first competition meant learning about Words And Women and their important work. It was on their blog too that I came across a post written by Leigh Chambers about the Angles writing group she’d started in Cambridge. I got in contact with Leigh and eventually joined the group. Angles has been an invaluable source of friendship and community for me. I have Words and Women to thank for connecting me to these amazing writers!
I was a highly-commended writer for Words and Women: One and that was my first writing success ever. It was such a boost to have come so close to being included in the anthology! I loved the ethos of the competition and entered again the next year. My first writing publication is a piece in Words and Women: Two.
Because Words And Women has been an integral part of my finding a place as a writer, I wanted to send them my very best work. Last fall, I sent them a story that is deeply meaningful to me as well as one in which I had carefully considered every word. Of all the pieces I have written over the past few years, this is the one of which I am the most proud. It was an absolute thrill to have it honoured as the 2016 regional winner.
As part of the prize, I had a session with Jill Dawson, best-selling novelist and founder of the Gold Dust mentoring scheme. Before the session, I sent Jill a longer piece and an overview for a book-length project. Jill’s feedback was fantastic! It was clear to me that she had read my work not only with a keen eye for structural and narrative possibilities, but also with a generous respect for the soul of the story I want to tell. What I found especially helpful was that she would pair a general suggestion about my writing with specific areas in the piece she had read, showing me where I might put her guidance to use right away. I could then take these ideas and apply them to other pieces of writing. Jill offered just the kind of perspective and boost I needed to give me the confidence to embark on my larger project. And, we met in a great teashop in Ely that was new to me - always a bonus!
Thank you Jill Dawson and thank you Words And Women!
Melissa Fu grew up in Northern New Mexico and lives in Cambridge. Her work appears in Words and Women:Two, Words and Women: Four, Bare Fiction, Envoi, Right Hand Pointing, and other publications. With backgrounds in physics and English, she spent many years working in education, both as a teacher and a consultant. In 2014 Melissa combined her loves of writing and teaching to start Spilling the Ink, a small business offering creative writing courses and coaching.
Her winning story Suite for my Father can be found in Words and Women: Four, available from Unthank Books.