We were sitting in the cafe, basking in the aroma wafting from a cup of fine Peruvian coffee, when an idea struck.
“We should organise a short story writing competition?” I said.
Jo looked up. “Why not?” she replied.
There are probably numerous answers to that question, but we never got around to discussing what they might be.
“We could publish the best ones in a book,” I expanded.
“Great idea,” she said.
“This is a very good coffee,” I said. “And good ideas come from good coffee.” I pointed to a sign on the wall that said so.
“I’ll help,” Jo volunteered.
“Can you minute that?” I asked. “Please.”
“Are we having a meeting now?” Jo enquired.
“I think we are," I said. "The inaugural meeting of The Dorset Writers’ Prize organising committee. That’s you and me, at the moment.”
“Excellent,” said Jo. “Can we really do it?”
“From little acorns, large squirrels grow,” I opined. “What time is it?”
“Just after 18:50,” Jo replied.
“Minute that as well,” I said. I caught Jo’s eye as it rolled my way. “Please,” I added...
And so it began, The Dorset Writers’ Prize (est 1852) - or just before 7pm one never to be forgotten early July evening. Or was it late June? Jo knows, because she wrote it all down on her pad in very, very, small writing, as we discussed what sort of competition it should be, who might judge it and what rules would apply.
We agreed many things. It should be open to Dorset writers, born or residing here. We want to attract submissions from across the county. There should be no theme, because we don’t want to stifle creativity, and we enjoy surprises. And if, along the way, we uncover contemporary stories, well told, that reflect some aspect of life, art and living today (real or imagined), and which will keep our readers enthralled, we will be delighted.
We don’t wish to differentiate between first, second and third prizes, with a list of runners up. Instead, we prefer to try and find ten or twelve stories we consider will lend themselves to the publication of a good book. Contributors can then share the honours and the royalties. Authors will remain anonymous during the submission process to ensure fairness, and if successful, we will do it again.
We are excited by it. We hope you are too.