Hello everyone. My name is Anna Vaught and I am a novelist and teacher. I have also, at various times in my life, including while I was writing my books, been a carer. The last few years have been extremely challenging.
Oh, but this is not about me.
It is about you.
You might be a writer or perhaps you want to write; you hope to be published, or perhaps you already have been but you truly need support. I understand. I have always felt that writing – and creativity more broadly – can be at the core of who we are; they’re not a luxury but at the centre of your life, sustaining you, keeping you well and refreshed. This does not mean that life will be easy – and that I understand – but there are things we can do.
I have got together with various people in the publishing industry to put together a new prize. There will be two categories – and thus two winners – and it will launch in January, 2023. You will be able to enter a short story or piece of non-fiction – or creative non-fiction – of up to 4,000 words and I will ask you not to identify your work so that it is judged blind. There will be one winner in each category and the prizes are amazing. You can, of course, write about the experience of caring, but this is entirely up to you. You could write about anything! I am telling everyone about the prize well ahead of its opening date so that you have plenty of time to ponder, plan, think and write; a little here and there. PLEASE don’t feel intimidated about entering the competition: this prize is for YOU.
Now, for the purposes of clarity, when we say carer, we don’t mean someone in a parental role, although that may be part of it. I am using the NHS definition: https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/comm-carers/carers/ – to summarise:
‘A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.’
As we go, there will be lots to tell you, but as it stands prizes include…
*A bursary of £500 for the winner of each category (short story and non-fiction/creative non-fiction) donated by author Lorraine Rogerson. This is likely to increase, as I am aware that others may also wish to contribute. And I say bursary, but that’s because it sounds fancier than ‘cash prize’. It is entirely up to you what you do with this!
*Three online writing workshops courtesy of The Arvon Foundation
*A place on clinical psychologist and writer Stephanie Carty’s Psychology of Character course with a 1-1 zoom follow up
*Mentoring with me!
*Special zoom workshop session for ALL shortlisted authors with Hannah Weatherill, fiction and book to screen agent at North Bank Talent
*3 mentoring sessions over up to 6 months, 5k manuscript extract (or shorter, depending on what you haver written) with bestselling crime writer, Sarah Hilary. This is specifically for a carer who is also chronically ill or disabled.
*Book coaching with Sarah Rigby, Director of leading independent publisher, Elliot and Thompson
*A year’s subscription to Mslexia magazine and a copy of the latest edition of their invaluable guide to indie presses
*A year’s membership of The Society of Authors for each of the two winners
*Submissions advice with Will Dady, director of award-winning independent press, Renard
*Agent 1-2-1 with Kate Johnson of Wolf Literary, NYC (Kate is my agent and I am putting on record that she and my agency have been uniquely supportive to me)
*Agent 1-2-1/mentoring with Jenny Savill, Managing Director of Andrew Nurnberg Ltd literary agency.
*Submissions advice and support from The Good Literary Agency – details to be confirmed as we are meeting this week
*Structural edit on a piece of work – it could be this one OR another short piece OR a longer work – from editor and Cheshire Prize creator, Sara Naidine Cox. Plus zoom follow-up
*Mentoring for a carer who identifies as LGTBQ from writer and lecturer (and one of the judges for the Curae) Michael Langan, the same from a carer who identifies as working class from Seanín Hughes, poet, writer and editor and novelist and novelist Jennie Godfrey. These may be shortlisted writers, winners or others entering the competition depending on demand.
*Something wonderful from Jericho Writers (to be confirmed)
I am absolutely delighted to tell you that judges on this prize will be THE WONDERFUL Chimene Suleyman and Michael Langan. Between them there’s a wealth of writing – fiction, editing and non-fiction – and teaching. Others are coming forward to help with this prize too and it is a profound hope that, if it goes well, we extend the prize to young carers, aged under 18.
All shortlisted work will be showcased here, and I will publicise and draw attention to your work through social media channels and press interest – if this is what you want.