Last year I entered the Costa Short Story Award with naive ambition. This year I am entering with no misconceptions. I have no expectation that I will win and I doubt I will even be nominated for the long list.
Yet this year I know my story is a thousand times better. It is, quite possibly, the best short story I have ever written. It has, I have been informed, emotionally moved several people – one or two almost to tears. But I have no confidence that this will matter to the judges. I would find it nice if only they could communicate my improvement from last year’s entry. Though I realise this is an impossibility.
Yet, if I feel like this, why am I entering?
Because I have to. Because even though I have no expectations and very little faith in myself, I have to believe in my story. And it’s a good story. Could other authors perhaps tell it better? Probably. But could they tell tell it like I have? No, I do not believe so.
Entering this competition is not about me. It is about my story. I have tiny, hidden hopes that my story might win. I have to believe this otherwise I have not given the piece due attention. Once I send this story off into the ether it is no longer mine. It belongs to whomever might read it.
Therefore, it is almost impossible that I will win the Costa Short Story Award.
But possibly, maybe, conceivably…my short story just might.