My latest Short Story, “The Pattern Of Seamie O’Connell” has been published on the Website. Please take a few minutes to read and enjoy. It is loosely based on a true story from one of my personal experiences, like so many of my short stories. It was specifically written as an entry for the 2018 RTE Radio 1 Francis McManus Short Story Competition of which there was over 1800 entries. Congratulations to those who won. However, without trying to be ungracious, I often wonder what these arts competition really want, particularly the ones run by RTE, our national broadcaster. This is meant to be a short story competition suitable for radio. What better theme than a story about one of our national sports, descriptive by nature, a solid story and of course an Irish theme. Ideal for broadcasting in that our national broadcaster frequently broadcasts GAA matches live. This match has the added drama and the back story. Throw in a funeral and sure it must be the near perfect traditional Irish story.
The judges were for the RTE Competition were Danielle McLaughlin, RTÉ’s Arts and Media correspondent, author Sinéad Crowley and book publicist Cormac Kinsella. The stories were limited to 2000 words. Not a lot for a writer to be descriptive and tell an epic story. Cormac Kinsella said of the winning entry, “What impressed me most was despite its length the reader is given a fully realised world that the characters inhabit.” Seriously “A fully realised world!”. What is that? And if you could do it in less than 2000 words, what is left for the story? Of the runner up, Sinead Crowley commented “It soon becomes clear that there is another layer waiting to be uncovered. Deceptively simple, with well-drawn characters and evocative writing”. Another layer and deceptively simple! Evocative writing! In my youth, the hens were good layers! I didn’t know you could draw picture on radio. Of the third “Doesn’t shy away from its material in any way and at the same time remains nuanced, with lots of subtle layers”, said Danielle McLaughlin. Why would it shy away? It’s meant to be a story!
My issue is that words like “layers”, “evocative”. “nuanced”, “subtle”, “deceptively” and “realised” are words RTE adjudicators love to use to try to make themselves sound more educated and sharper than the common man or woman in the street. What is wrong with saying that it was a “funny story”, a “sad story”, a “dramatic story” or a “tragic story”. The common denominator is the word “story”. Yes, it’s a story, a short story and the story is the important ingredient of a short story. The story matters! RTE adjudicators represent arts nationally using taxpayer’s money. So maybe now and again they need to think of keeping things simple so that everyone no matter what their level of education can feel part of the arts and literature that this country is famed for. Ireland is famed for its story telling. Let’s not lose the art of the simple story telling to fancy words and evocative language! Maybe it explains why so many are turning away from the National broadcaster to watch, read and view the stories of other countries in their medium of choice. Everybody loves a good story, even more so when it is Irish based.
Anyway, rant over. I would be interested in hearing my audiences’ thoughts, both on competitions our National broadcaster run and thoughts on “The Pattern of Seamie O’Connell”. In the meantime, some of you will have noticed a small restructure of the website, where the Gallery and the Contact are now part of the Main Menu, not to mention this excellent evocative Blog that is deceptively simple with loads of layers, subtle sarcasm and I just realised how nuanced it is! Don’t be afraid to let me know your opinion and connect with me on social media.