A Story of Life

‘An unusual story of grief over a beloved pet and shared through cake and all things lemon. The ritual of death and new growth is wonderfully encapsulated through the lemon tree.’—Lorraine Marwood, Stories of Life judge and award-winning author

Yesterday my short story, Love and Lemon Cake, won second prize in the Stories of Life competition (short story category). I was a little surprised and quietly delighted to place second—after all, there were many stories in this year’s anthology to choose from, and many more experienced writers than me! So I was a little caught off guard by the announcement. 

I was not even planning to enter this year. I have entered this competition previously and been rejected, so I have been nursing that fatal wound ever since. But this year, during a period of extended leave from work owing to dreadful illness, I had a little free writing time. When Stories of Life called for entries, I found myself thinking, ‘Why not?’ 

I found myself thinking, ‘Why not?’

I entered two stories, one for each category (short story—Love and Lemon Cake, and long story—On The Job), fully expecting to be rejected again. I don’t mind being rejected. In some ways, I feel like an authentic writer the more I accumulate formal rejections! So I braced myself for the inevitable, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ 

Imagine my surprise when not one, but both stories got accepted for publication! 

I could not have been more proud. I also saw how my illness, though disabling and distressing, was providing space for writing opportunities I otherwise would not have had. God was providing grace for me in the midst of illness. The grace to write, let alone having two stories accepted for publication in the 2022 Stories of Life anthology, would have been truly enough for me. 

Placing second was the cherry on top. 

God was providing grace in the midst of illness.

It was like a little extra validation for me as a writer, that people—and most importantly, God—believe I have something of value to offer. Without that validation, I would have continued to write regardless. I don’t ‘need’ it. But it has been a kind of confirmation, and I appreciate it. 

And what of the prize-winning story, Love and Lemon Cake? You’ll have to buy the anthology to read it, and I hope you do, because it has a special place in my heart. It is a tale of the furbaby I loved and lost this year (also while on extensive sick leave) and how some dear friends rallied around me when I needed it the most. I experienced God’s love through their actions. 

It just goes to show a little lemon cake can go a long way. 

A little lemon cake can go a long way.

If you have been thinking of sharing your own story of life, I encourage you to consider entering next year. Writing your story is a wonderful step to take, and sharing it with others is a positive risk, whether it gets accepted or not. 

The next time the annual call for Stories of Life entries comes around, I hope you find yourself asking, ‘Why not?’ 

Have you entered the Stories of Life or another writing competition? Is it time you shared your story of faith? How can you use your life experiences—the ups and downs—to encourage others? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

Buy the 2022 Stories of Life anthology, Bones and Blue Eyes, here: https://storiesoflife.net/product/bones-and-blue-eyes/

Read the announcement of all prize winners here: https://storiesoflife.net/2022-prize-winners/

2 thoughts on “A Story of Life

  1. Oh Steph, I love that you entered anyway. And I’m thrilled for you having both published and coming second place!
    I connect so much with what you’ve said about God’s grace in the midst of illness.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Jenny, thank you! I’m glad you said that about God’s grace during illness; it’s difficult to accept it, as it’s such a vulnerable place to be. But for me, that vulnerable space is exactly where I need God’s grace the most. Have a lovely weekend.

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