Pipped to the Post

“I don’t believe it”

My eyes were drawn to an email in my inbox yesterday from Reader’s Digest.  It was not spam and as I have sent in articles to them in the past it was not a name I was unfamiliar with.  However this one stood out as it had FAO Middle Son – 100 Word Story as its subject.

Some months ago I entered the Readers Digest 100 word competition.  The story had to be sharp and to the point but only 100 words; no more: no less.   I worked hard at this, I would struggle normally to write so few words.  Each word had to impart a mountain of information and each word was carefully constructed to try to convey the essence of a whole different world to the reader.

I even managed to coax Sexy Sporty Dad to read a few of them and on one occasion drew out comments of real use which I used.  Finally happy that I could not refine them any more I took the plunge and sent 6 of them off to the Reader’s Digest.

Middle Son showed a flickering of teenage interest in what I was doing and when told he replied “I could do that – it’s easy”.

I went to great lengths to show him the web-site and tell him there was a children’s competition running at the same time.


The moment had gone, curiosity abandoned, I challenged him. If he thought he could do the same then go on.


Then I mentioned a prize.   The ears opened up; the hair flicked from the face; an imprint of possible interest flashed through his eyes.   What could he spend his money on?  When would he get it?  Could he use the vouchers for BMX shopping?

He disappeared and within moments typed and produced a succinct little story called Kiss; something way beyond his usual casual thrown together homework attempt on a subject I hoped he still had no experience of.   It was good.  I would go so far as to say it was brilliant.  A couple of grammatical changes and it was perfect. I sent it off under his name to the appropriate aged category.

Months passed and we heard nothing.   The latest copy of the magazine had the winning three stories in.  The adult one was good, very good but I think some of mine could give it a run for its money.  The 11 – 18 story was good, quite sad but well put together by a young 17 year-old. Middle Son’s was as good; in my opinion at least!

Then I get the email, out of the blue saying:

Many thanks for sending in your 100-word story to our recent competition. Unfortunately, you didn’t win one of our top prizes, but we loved your tale. We received over 8,000 entries, so have picked some of our favorites to post on the website, and were hoping to put your story online at the end of the month

Years of getting up early, reams and reams of unpublished stories, battles of self-confidence and is it good enough, yet not one of my six stories made it.  Looking at the web site they are publishing one story each day; some are adult stories and some are the children’s ones.  He is at 13 a published writer.   Something for his CV!


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