Robin Rules and Shortbread Reunions
A few months ago, while Rachel and I were setting up a booth at Winter Words in Pitlochry, a rather bemused Robin sat huddled in the corner surrounded by manuscripts. For hours he scribbled notes in black biro, muttering to himself, and every now and then he’d rise from his mountain of paper to shout out a wonderful opening line or to recite a poignant paragraph. No, he wasn’t having a breakdown, nor was he writing his fifth novel, he was in the midst of judging the St Andrew’s Day Short Story competition run by General Teaching Council for Scotland and The Scottish Association of Writers (SAW). And boy was he having a tough time deciding on his favourite. The entries were all so good and so well written, that — despite being in short story heaven — deciding who the winner should be was a rather momentous task.
So when we attended the St Andrew’s Day Competition Prize-giving in Edinburgh last week, I was very excited to hear the winning stories read out and to meet the authors behind the stories. I was not disappointed. Robin spoke about each shortlisted story, providing feedback and notes to each author in attendance, and it was clear by his comments that not only had he enjoyed reading each entry, but he learnt something from each and every story. Then after a quick “advert break” where Robin took the opportunity to shamelessly plug ShortbreadStories, enlisting some rather shy nods from an unsuspecting Shortbread team, he got on with the task of naming the three finalists.
Not only did I have the pleasure of being in a room full of talented authors and brilliant short story writers, I also had the pleasure of meeting and putting a face to ShortbreadStories member, Mary Edward. I have been a fan of Mary’s writing since reading “Beyond Repair”, and so it was lovely to finally meet her in person and to have a chat about her stories and her work with SAW.
And the Shortbread Love Fest, didn’t end there. After the prize giving, Rachel and I headed into Edinburgh to have a little reunion with a couple of Shortbreaders who attended the creative writing course in Spain. In no time at all, our little table in the middle of Pizza Express became very reminiscent of nights spent chatting while the sun set in Andalucía. Erica talked about her new novel which had blossomed into a trilogy, much to the advice of Rachel, and Al told us about his struggles to write a truly feminist story. As high-brow as this sounds before long we were all just chatting about television, life, and future reunions. So after a lovely day spent with like-minded people, and an evening spent chatting with old friends, our night ended precisely the way all evenings should; with a four person hug on the streets of Edinburgh.