Writing can be a lonely and thankless task at times, interrupted by wondering whether one has anything worthwhile to say, and then worrying if anyone will take the trouble to read it. So it is very gratifying, once in a while, to have one's work rewarded with recognition.
The very short story, "Fire," began in a writing class where we were asked to write something using as a prompt one of the four classic elements: earth, air, fire and water. Having been born under a water sign and followed the sea as a young man, the latter might have been an obvious choice. Instead, an image of flames flowed from my imagination through my fingers and onto the page. Flames that can warm and comfort, but also terrify and destroy.
I submitted the completed story to the 2019 Peter Cowan Short Story Competition. Named after one of Western Australia's best-known writers, the competition is open to unpublished short stories of 600 words or less, that have not received any other award or recognition.
In judging it worthy of a Commended Award, competition judge Nathan Hobby wrote: "Fire" by Richard Regan, is a dark and surreal quest stretching across ages and into the underworld, bringing Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian to my mind. The snippets of nightmare revealed in each scene are memorable and disturbing: the prose precise and surprising -- 'The juices stain our beards as we crunch the bones of bayonet-roast hare.' An original and memorable work, it crosses the boundaries between fiction and poetry.
To be even mentioned in the same sentence as the writer of "No Country for Old Men" and "Blood Meridian" is inspiration enough to stop worrying and start writing.
You can read the story here.