Lauren Beukes tweeted earlier today about how difficult it is to get paid to write short stories in South Africa, especially if you’re a newbie writer. It’s true. Sites like the Africa-focused Writers Afrika, Write Jobs and Writing Bar collate and blog paying-market gigs, calls for entry, competitions and job opportunities for writers. The stuff’s sometimes hit or miss but hey, watchu gonna do? Writers Afrika’s gone silent, unfortunately, but hopefully will be back up as I see their Twitter account now is active again.
There are also places like BooksLIVE, SLiP and LitNet, which, in addition to putting out must-read content for anyone with writerly ambitions, sometimes put up opportunities to get published. Then are the journals and publications like the delightful Something Wicked, Words Etc, Mahala print, Chimurenga, African Writing, the eclectic ITCH magazine and (still publishing?) New Contrast, which may at times be looking for content. Some are paying, others not.
And while they can be a crap-shoot, competitions are a good way to write creatively to a target (seemingly the only way I write). Even if you don’t win, you should have a reasonably good short story draft to keep polishing until that perfect opportunity comes along. So anyway, here is my totally incomplete list of entry fee-free short story competitions for South African writers. The list is, to the best of my ability, in chronological order of closing dates. I’m sure there are more. If you know of any, please add to the comments.
AW last year launched their inaugural African Writing Prize for Flash Fiction. No word yet on whether they’re doing it again for 2012. Competition closed on 31 January last year.
SA Writers’ College
SAWN runs an annual short story competition for unpublished writers. It’s got some nice prize money. This year’s theme is “Roll of the Dice”. Entries are now open and it closes 31 March at midnight.
South Africa PEN
The PEN/Studzinski Literary Award is probably one of the biggest short story competitions in South Africa, and some big names are listed as previous winners. Perhaps the biggest name is the competition judge who is none other than JM Coetzee. Keep an eye on the website for updates on the 2012 contest, but it usually opens around April and closes May/June or so.
Short Story Day South Africa
So 21 June is Short Story Day in SA. I think there was a competition linked to this last year. Keep an eye on the Facebook page to see if anything is going on for this year.
Should they not change the competition’s format again, entries for the 2013 CommonWealth Short Story Competition should open some time in October and close before the end of the year. Check out the details for the 2012 prize to get an idea of what you’re in for.
Hopefully O Magazine SA will repeat their short story competition whose star-studded judging panel included the inspiration for this post, Lauren Beukes. Check out details of last year’s competition here.
Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa
SFFSA runs the annual Nova short Story competition for budding writers of science fiction and fantasy short stories. Entries open in April and close on 30 September.
Writers who revel in horror, gore and guts can enter the Horrorfest-linked Bloody Parchment short story competition. Last year’s competition closed a few months ago and I think the judges are still mulling over entries, so there are no details yet for this year’s competition. Start sharpening those meat cleavers now in anticipation of an October closing date.