Creative writing learner submits work to the Bridport Prize

The Bridport Prize is an international creative writing competition which is one of the most prestigious awards in the literary world. Entries are submitted via the competition's website from over eighty countries worldwide.

Surrey Adult Learning offers (SAL) an enviable range of courses to inspire learners of all backgrounds, abilities, and goals. We have a team of skilled tutors who will support and encourage you to reach your potential. We are proud of our community of learners who have discovered a new skill with us or refined and amplified an existing talent. Learner David joined a SAL creative writing course with us and here he shares his incredible learning journey with us, where he discovered a talent for creative writing that has led him to enter in prestigious literary competitions and gain awards for his work. He has affirmed his ability as a writer and cultivated his talent under the guidance of SAL Tutor Lizzie Stafford-Smith.

Below he shares his story with us.

'I'm not sure you'll like it,' said my wife sliding a birthday card across the kitchen table.

As it happens being secretly enrolled on a creative writing course with Surrey Adult Learning was a brilliant present, but at the time, as I ripped open the envelope and read how my Wednesdays were to be spent it didn't seem like it. My history with the education system wasn't great and the thought of stuffing myself under a desk in a classroom of adults for two hours filled me with dread.

To be fair, once I realised what a large animal Vet does with his arm, I've always thought being a writer must be the best job in the world. Before working from home was a thing, the thought of earning money whilst sitting on a beach, hilltop retreat, boat or even a pub seemed like the perfect choice.

Having an 'O' level in art and a certificate for swimming two lengths in the public baths didn't ease my anxiety. I stumbled nervously into my first class expecting it to be my last.

Smiling faces, a relaxed atmosphere and gentle coaxing by our tutor, Lizzie, made two hours fly by.

The following Wednesday I found myself looking forward to the 'lesson' and for the first time ever, when I sat down with my fellow students, I didn't say that I'd left my homework on the bus. That first term, I made great friends who helped me enormously.

If you had told me a year ago that I'd not only be writing but I would be entering stories into competitions, I would have laughed out loud. It is without a doubt that the creative writing course with Surrey Adult Learning has enabled me to fulfil a wish I never thought possible.

I'm not writing a novel from a deck chair, but I do write 1000 words every week, usually standing at the kitchen worktop and for me that's pretty good. I write for the sense of personal achievement and my goal is to enjoy writing.

Below David shares an extract from his novel, The Boy and the Mermaid.

'His body sways as he stares at the gurgling water swirling beneath him. Would anyone care if he was swept out to sea? He pushes off on one leg and jumps across the gully. His foot slips as he lands causing him to buckle. His knee cracks against the granite and both palms slap the greasy surface. He levers himself upright, he can't even leap over a gap in the rocks. The shame of last night is still raw and he stumbles forward. A tiny beach appears, large boulders creating sides to an inlet. Head down he steps from ledge to ledge clambering lower until the soles of his shoes crunch on the shiny stones. He crouches, plucks a flat black pebble between his finger and thumb, walks to the water's edge, and flings it into the grey sea. It skims twice before sinking. He turns and sees her. She's sitting with her back against a rock, cigarette in one hand, lighter in the other. His mouth drops open. He's never seen a mermaid before.'

My competition results include:

  • Finalist - Wild Atlantic Flash Fiction (500 words)
  • Longlisted - Bath Memoir (2000 words)
  • Second round - The Bridport Prize (4000 words)
  • Third Place - Henshaw Press Short Story Award (2000 words and to be published in the next Anthology)

Surrey Adult Learning offers creative writing courses that aim to build your creative writing skills and promote your confidence in your writing. You will be encouraged to explore your creativity and allow your imagination to run loose. Why not consider joining us whether you enjoy poetry and prose, short stories, flash fiction, news columns or even novels. We extend a warm welcome to everyone!

If you would like to try your hand at creative writing, enrol on a course today.

  • Reviewed: 15 Dec 2023

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