Clare Weze on winning a Northern Writers’ Award 2016

I haven’t yet come down from the ceiling since winning a Northern Writers’ Award. Hearing a lovely review of my stories at the awards ceremony felt like the pinnacle, but there was more. The following week I met leading literary agents at a talent party organised by New Writing North (NWN) in London. The evening was relaxed and fun, but might have been daunting if not for the preparatory pitching workshop NWN also organised. I now know how to weave my pitch into ordinary party small talk! This workshop was also huge fun and I made great friends there.

The talent salon resulted in requests to see my work from several agents, which led to a frenzy of polishing and formatting material into submission-ready samples. I also had to force out the dreaded synopsis; I’d like to think I’m no longer quite so appalled by that particular beastie. I’m waiting to find out whether any of the agents will be representing me. In the meantime, my current task is completing the work that won the award. It’s a short story collection (titled Don’t Ever Bring Me Fish) which homes in on characters’ reactions to upending events. I’m enjoying exploring and comparing the reactions. The measured, cautious ones can cause as much trouble as the wild ricochets, but the latter look like reflexes from a distance, which is also intriguing.

It’s difficult to find a publisher for a story collection, but winning the award has given me the confidence to plough on in the knowledge that the judges liked the sample stories. It’s bought me time to focus in a wonderfully unbroken way, because fractured writing time means you spend half the session chasing your tail and recapturing an atmosphere. I have a novel on the back burner and a completed children’s book looking for a home, so all these projects should keep me quiet for a while.


The Northern Writers’ Awards 2017 are now open for entry for work-in-progress until 2 February 2017