What a wonderful start to today.
After a week of mud-slinging, bitterness and tragedy in news stories and on social media, it was wonderful to hear Chris Evans and his team celebrating our future writers via the annual 500 words competition.
Back in February, I was sent a tranche of entries to judge in the 10-13 years-old category. Even at this early stage I was struck by the imagination of these young people. It was hard to select a shortlist because I wanted to reward everyone who had entered for taking the time and effort, for daring to put pen to paper and produce a complete story in such few words (it’s actually pretty hard!).
As I listened to the winning entries, I had to keep reminding myself that the writers were all under the age of 14. The ability and talent were amazing, inspirational and a salve to the unkindness and sadness in the rest of the world. There were hilarious tales of prosthetics for slugs, a beard for a lady, and a rather yobbish Miss Riding Hood who increasingly drives a polite Mr Wolf to despair. Then a tale filled with horror and suspense based on Jack and Jill which made me envious as a wannabe ghost story writer. One of the most moving entries was by Lauren Cook, in the 5-9 years-old category, called The Kindest of Strangers, which looks at how a hungry, homeless man gives his last piece of food to a girl he thinks is even hungrier than him.
As David Walliams commented, on the standard of entries: “I feel like giving up.”
You can read all the shortlisted stories here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/KNWsKPrg7stQ54tTbcf6P7/500-words-the-stories
So today, after a week of becoming increasingly more despondent every time I look at the headlines or read updates on social media, I have felt my heart lift in happiness and gladness. We have some truly awesome future writers out there to look forward to. Let’s celebrate their success, and the wonderful initiative of 500 Words, which seeks to champion children’s writing. Let’s thank Chris Evans and his team for running this with such enthusiasm and commitment every year and for making it the fun and inspirational event that it is. And let’s applaud the actors who help bring the stories to life and thrill the young writers whose work they read.
You all did good today.