Dr Claire Lynch, Reader in English Literature at Brunel University London, has been highly commended by the judges of a new life writing prize.
Described by Life Writing Prize 2017 judge Blake Morrison as “beautifully written, moving, immaculately constructed”, Claire’s extract was chosen for commendation from some 700 entrants in the award’s inaugural year.
The story is about the “far from straightforward journey” to the birth of Claire’s twin daughters. She says: “It’s called The Year Dot because their arrival seems like the beginning of time for me, but also because it already seems so long ago, even though they’re still tiny.
“The main challenge for me was deciding how to tell such a personal story. I was really aware that the topics I needed to deal with were still almost taboo, infertility, miscarriage, premature babies. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I wrote it, I wanted to share the story with others who might be experiencing something similar.”
Describing how it felt being highly commended, Claire adds: “It is difficult to explain how grateful I am to Spread the Word for this opportunity. I am delighted and a little overwhelmed to have got this far in the competition.
“I’ve been an avid reader of life writing for as long as I can remember but this is the first time I’ve ever attempted to write it myself. It’s both encouraging and humbling to think that this extract might be the start of something more.”
This year’s judges were Blake Morrison, Katy Massey and Margaret Stead. The Prize, established by Spread the Word in 2016 thanks to a philanthropic donation, awards a total of £2,500 in prize money, and a package of writer development support for the top three writers.
The competition recognises self-contained or beginning extracts of longer life writing works that are previously unpublished by emerging writers with up to six professional (paid) publication credits, in an anonymised judging process. The judges only discover the identity of the winners after making their final decision.
Claire Lynch is Reader in English at Brunel. A graduate of the University of Kent and the University of Oxford, she specialises in autobiography and contemporary Irish literature.
Follow Claire on Twitter @DrClaireLynch
Read Claire's interview with Spread the Word
Read The Year Dot (PDF)
Sarah Cox, Media Relations