Alphaday 2 – Season XVI

Hi Alphas,

Welcome to Alphaday 2, Season XIV. I hope you’re all settling in and ready to tackle the next stages of this season. Starting up the Alpha machinery takes time, but we’ve made a start and there’s more to follow before we’re in full flow. In fact we’ve made an excellent start with every single member contributing to the first challenge. The resulting collation of stories will hit your inbox today – a real treat, I expect.

The Log is being put together as well. We’ll do it in two stages for this first Log of the season to make sure you get the full benefit. There’ll be a ‘taster’ sent out today to give you an idea of what we like to hear about in the Log. A fuller version will be ready next Alphaday, giving everyone a chance to tell us something about the sort of writer you are.

Today’s agenda is still a modest one, but it should make you feel that we’re on our way to a great season.

As follows:

  • This bulletin from me
  • The collated entries for the ‘Story’ challenge from Rosemary
  • The brief for Challenge 2 from Stephen (already there!)
  • Part one of the Log from Sally


Alpha news:

We have a new member joining us today: a warm welcome to Gloria! She is a novelist who lives in France. (That makes three of us over here!) She’s looking forward to joining in our activities and we look forward to her input.

I’ve included Gloria in the address list for this bulletin and will send out a revised list of members immediately after this.

General news:

I always find the Booker Prize an exciting event to follow. The long- and shortlists are presumably indicators of how literature is evolving in the present, and of what deserves our attention.

It can’t be easy to be a member of the judging panel and picking the best novels from a plethora of widely differing submissions. Some of the judging criteria seem baffling to me, a simple reader of good books. Apparently one of the star qualities this year is that the novels explore ‘liminal spaces’. Sounds interesting, but might be a difficult ingredient to pin down. They’re also subjected to tests of ‘technicality’ (yea, okay), ‘interiority’ (hm, tricky one), and ‘strength of character’ (that one seems straightforward).

We’ve sometimes discussed what criteria to adopt for judging our challenge entries. Looking at the above makes me quite happy to accept that we judge by our own individual rules. If that means our judgements are subjective, then so be it. But we know a good piece of writing when we see one and the fact that we often agree is a good enough indication that we’re doing just fine without having specific criteria to consult.


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