An international writing retreat based in Ireland this week launched a special awards competition to create enjoyment for the many people forced to stay at home due to the coronavirus outbreak – with almost 3,000 euro worth of prizes for just 500 words of prose.

‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ listed among the Top Ten artistic retreats of any kind in Europe by The Guardian newspaper in London, hosts week-long retreats several times every year in Donegal, Paris and along the Black Sea in Romania. It has named its inaugural competition the ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards’ (WAWA).

“We thought such an awards competition would provide an interesting challenge for people who like reading and writing and have no choice but to stay at home for the next few weeks,” said Columbia Hillen, who co-founded ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ which began five years ago and has attracted participants, tutors and authors from countries as diverse as New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, France, Iceland, the US, Australia and the UK.

“Our competition has two categories: flash fiction – open to all genres from sci-fi, crime, romance, horror, humor, thriller, mystery to whatever tickles you – and creative nonfiction.”

Adding spice to the idea, the ‘Flash Fiction Award’ competition has a single central theme.

“After many hours of debate, we realised the perfect one was staring us right in the face -writing itself,” said Columbia. “For example, one of the characters, human or non-human, could be a writer. Or a piece of writing could play a key role in the story. Participants should let their imaginations guide them how best to integrate writing into their stories.”

She added, “The winning entry will receive 500 euro in cash, plus 990 euro in the form of free participation to one of our retreats, including all daily excursions, by land and sea, food and drinks tastings, concerts and dance performances, and all writing workshops and author talks.”

To qualify for the ‘Creative Nonfiction Award,’ participants must write a story of not more than 500 words on any subject – whether in the form of memoir, profile, literary journalism, personal essay, travel food, or any other creative nonfiction category.”

“With the writer’s permission, the winning entries will be published on the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ website, with a short bio and photograph,” Columbia said. “Writers retain all copyright to their work.” For further information, see https://www.irelandwritingretreat.com/writing-competition

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