E. B. White once said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” I’ve repeated these words to myself often these past eighteen months while simultaneously wondering if E. B. White would have said the same after 215 days of collective hard lockdown sharing writing space with a home schooler. He probably would have!

My reality has been different though. Much to my consternation “Lockdown Life” hasn’t been kind to my productive output, and sometimes it’s hard to shrug off the ‘writer’s guilt’ that accompanies it.

That’s why, when I received two lots of wonderful writing news in as many weeks, it didn’t just come as a welcome surprise…the news acted as a tonic for my deflated writer’s soul!

Firstly, I was delighted to learn I’d won first place in the adult fiction category of Farrells Bookshop’s 2021 Writing Competition for my dark little tale Yelah. The inspiration for the competition drew on the theme of this year’s CBCA Book Week: ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds’, and it was a pleasure to craft a tale under 1,000 words that riffed off a theme ripe for speculation.

My biggest thanks to Farrells Bookstore, local independent bookstore legends here in Mornington. Thank you for your generous prize! You can read Yelah, and all the other fabulous winning stories across the other categories, here.

A week later, I was beyond thrilled to learn my short story Due South had won first place in the inaugural Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Short Story Writing Awards.

Many thanks to the amazing judging panel: Mayor Councillor Despi O’Connor, along with three authors I admire and respect very much: Danielle Binks, Garry Disher and Paul Kennedy, whose collective comments included: “Brilliant! What pace and cracking telling, this author is absolutely a natural storyteller and we predict great, epic sagas in their future. This is quite possibly the next great Australian novel!” I am so honoured and humbled and grateful to the Shire and our local bookstores for their most generous prize package.

I would like to extend my congratulations to all those honourably mentioned, and indeed everyone who entered across all categories. And special mention to Peninsula Writers’ Club – especially President Andrea Rowe – whose vision and collaborative efforts and advocacy helped shape this awesome writing opportunity for the Mornington Peninsula’s vibrant and thriving literary community.

You can read Due South, along with the other winning and honourably mentioned stories across all categories here.

We’re still in Lockdown here in Metro Melbourne, but with fingers crossed for a return to school in Term 4, I’m looking forward to getting back into a settled writing routine. Sending cyber fist bumps of solidarity to anyone whose output has been impacted by Covid. Keep dreaming, keep doing what you can to feed your creative soul, be kind to yourself…and magic does still happen in unexpected ways!

In the meantime, here’s more from E. B. White: “Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…”

Happy writing, happy reading, and happy days