Featured photo credit Viv McGregor.  Outstanding Committee left to right; Sophie Robinson, Alex Greenwich, Gail Hewison, Robert Tate and Teresa Savage.

It’s official! IT’S COMPLICATED is the theme for this year’s OUTSTANDING short story competition.

The OutStanding Short Story Competition is Australia’s premier creative writing event for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community of Australia and New Zealand and this year’s competition was launched at a low key event in the heart of Oxford Street.

Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney and long standing supporter, made the announcement last night. With the bit of a tussle he had with a tightly sealed envelope adding to the suspense, eager writers gathered in the intimate feathered and pink chandeliered bar waiting to see where their imagination would take them.

I had the opportunity to spend some time beforehand with a member of last year’s winners circle, Craig Brush, and I leaned across to see if ‘It’s Complicated’ was an immediate idea percolator. Nothing yet he replied but we had been chatting over a drink about his writing process. His last year’s Highly Commended story, EARTHQUAKE from the theme of ‘OPEN’ was born and nurtured in a noisy pub where he lives.  It looked like a beer on the way home tonight was going to be definitely on the cards for him.

Craig and Jake Martin, Highly Commended last year for ANOTHER OPEN CURTAIN shared several pieces of advice with competition aspirants. Craig had been crushed by ill placed criticism and had not written prose for 15 years … don’t get disheartened.

Jake shared some F Scott Fitzgerald inspiration and exhorted other writers to let lots of people read your drafts and be open to hard criticism. Both writers agreed that brainstorming and revision are the tools and 750 words are enough but conciseness, precise language and disciplined ideas are vital.

The competition offers a first prize of $1000 with second, third and three highly commended receiving a combination of cash and literary prizes and this year for the very first time there is a youth prize of $500 for writers 25 and under.

More than the money it is the publishing of the work which seemed to inspire both Craig and Jake. The prize-winners are not only published in various places including the Sydney Star Observer but they are available for download in a professionally produced audio form. This year, podcasting is part of OutStanding’s commitment to LQBTIQ storytelling.

Summing up the need for Queer Space in literature, Robert Tait spoke about storytelling as always having been part of the community. Tait, a well- known writer and one of the competition managers, is one of this year’s three judges. Along with Gail Hewison, OAM and 78er with a long term commitment to the queer lit community, this year’s guest judge is Sophie Robinson. Robinson is part of Sydney’s Pride History Group which works to collect and preserve Sydney’s LGBTIQ histories.

Characterised by Tait as writing with a purpose for progress or writing for escape, OutStanding will once give authors a platform for “…our stories. An anchor. An expression of truths and of shared values.”

The OutStanding Short Story Competition on the theme of IT’S COMPLICATED is now officially open and entries must be in by September 1st. With readings and the prize givings in October. You can find the information on their site at — and