I had no idea what I’d let myself in for when I accepted my invitation to the Bristol Prize Awards Ceremony. What would the atmosphere be like? Would we have to stand on a stage with shining spotlights turned off one by one until the winner was announced?
Inside the vast space of Bristol’s Spike Island gallery last night, the air was fat with nerves – or maybe that was just me. I picked up a glass of wine from the table and hand aquiver, I just about baptized myself with Sauvignon Blanc.
Sip. Slurp. Gulp.
Bristol Prize co-ordinator Joe Melia talked us writers through what was about to happen.
‘This is all about celebrating your writing,’ he said. Some of the tension fell away.
Here was a bunch of writers at different stages in their careers – a published novelist, a creative writing tutor and others who, like me, are just at the beginning.
So much to talk about. Do you ask friends to read your work? Have you got an agent? And, and, and….
And then it was time for the show.
Images of the stunning designs submitted for the anthology cover flashed onto the wall. The Mayor of Bristol stood up to speak, followed by novelist Patricia Ferguson.
And then came the moment of judgement. Would my name be in the winning three? Hands white-tight on the side of the chair, breath held, the names of the runners up were read out. Three, four, five. I heard my name. I hadn’t won. Was I upset? Disappointed? No way – at last I could breathe again, high on my prize – my first ever piece of published fiction – The Colour of Mud.
Big congratulations to winner Mahsuda Snaith and to all the other writers in the anthology. Didn’t we have some party?!
The evening was a highlight of my year – inspiring chats with authors, an agent, and all the lovely people at the Bristol Prize.