I’ve lost count of the number of writing competitions I’ve entered. With a couple of exceptions I’ve got nowhere. Even though writing is something I love, the number of hours I’ve clocked up, not to mention the so-called opportunity cost, can feel pretty dispiriting without a readership (beyond my wonderful writing group). Which is why I decided I wouldn’t bother checking the latest ‘longlist’. If I was on it, the organisers would let me know. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have to go through that heartsink scanning-to-no-avail thing. Liberation! On Valentine’s Day I woke up to an email: one of my lovely writing pals thought she recognised my novel on the Exeter Novel longlist but she wasn’t sure; there were no authors’ names. I jumped out of bed and got checking. Feverishly. And …

… she was right!

Whoop! I felt so encouraged I got working on a short story to enter into another competition. But if my friend hadn’t told me, I’d still be in the dark. I was wrong about the organisers being in touch.

So in future I’ll be checking longlists, however much my poor old heart has to sink!