Updated: Nov 6
With summer in full swing and temperatures soaring, you may be tempted to lie back on your sun lounger and give yourself a ‘holiday’ from that writing project you’ve been toiling over. Or maybe not? Lazy days in the sun can be fruitful ground for creative writing - the perfect opportunity to be inspired by the great outdoors without even leaving your garden.
But how to get started? Competitions are a great way to re-energise your writing. Whether you have an unfinished story still languishing in the shade or a sizzling new plot buzzing around in your head, why not enter our Chalk Circle Short Story Competition? You still have until 31st August - plenty of time to let your imagination run riot!
Claim a Free Competition Entry
And here's an added incentive: a FREE entry for the first five stories submitted with a garden or summer-related theme. Just enter (online only) and pay as normal but add GARDEN SIZZLER to the subject line of your cover email. Qualifying entries will have their entry fee refunded - but be quick, you only have until midnight on 23rd August for this offer.
Still need inspiration? Chalk Circle's Danielle Sensier has some ideas to get you thinking.
Enduring classics are full of idyllic summer scenes - some more fantastical than others.
Through the Looking Glass, author, Lewis Carrol leads his main character, Alice through 'The Garden of Wild Flowers' - a place of surreal imaginings, worlds away from the prim Victorian gardens he would have known in real life.
Whereas Jerome K Jerome's hilarious account of getting lost in Hampton Court Maze in Three Men in a Boat, his comic masterpiece about a hapless trio on a trip down the Thames, suggests the author must have enjoyed more than his fair share of lazy days messing about in the sun before putting pen to paper.
Of course not all literary gardens are idyllic - far from it. Who can forget the all together more terrifying maze scene in Stephen King's The Shining or Ian McEwan's controversial and disturbing novel, The Cement Garden.
Some writers have used the garden metaphor to explore wider environmental and political themes. John le Carré's thriller, The Constant Gardener, is a blistering murder mystery exposing the pharmaceutical underbelly of global capitalism.
Elizabeth von Arnim's feminist classic, Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a more gentle tale, infused with unwitting social commentary. She has wonderfully lyrical marigolds whose seeds "have shone through my winter days like golden lamps" but her story is also peppered with wry observations on the condition of women at the turn of the 19th Century.
"I wish with all my heart I were a man, for of course the first thing I should do would be to buy a spade and go and garden, and then I should have the delight of doing everything for my flowers with my own hands and need not waste time explaining what I want done to somebody else."
So while the starting point for your story may be the delicious sights and sounds of a summer garden, don't hold back. Let your mind roam free and you may surprise yourself with a story which has something more interesting to say.
Ready to get writing? Great. Just polish up your story, and enter by 23rd August for the chance of a refund. And who knows - even if you're pipped at the post, you could still be one of our overall competition winners receiving a much bigger prize. See here for more details https://www.chalkcircle.org.uk/competitions
Summer Reading Recommendations
And then . . . if you’re still intent on that ‘holiday’ why not stretch back in the sun and treat yourself to one of these sizzling summer reads - they may surprise you! Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt; The Garden of Lost and Found Harriet Evans; Picnic in the Storm Yukiko Motoya; This Green and Pleasant Land Ayisha Malik; The Botanist's Daughter Kayte Nunn; Instructions for a Heatwave Maggie O'Farrell; Summer Ali Smith.