June: Theme - The Leader

Winning Entry:

I lead my people: burdened by responsibility, criticised, ridiculed. Yet happy to endure this suffering - for a demon lives in me, nourished by power.

By  Matthew Shepherd  


June's Txtlit writing competition was won by schoolteacher Matthew Shepherd,from Essex.   Winner Matthew Shepherd Matthew tells us that he takes great enjoyment from creative writing although he admits he's something of a novice. In particular, he enjoys the challenges and frustrations of micro-fiction and flash fiction. Whilst Matthew has been published online before, this is the first time that he has ever won a writing competition and it will spur him on to keep writing.

For June, we gave you the theme of "The Leader". Considering we were in the midst of a general election in June, we had very few entries that took the political route and instead, entries covered a broad spectrum of leaders from all sorts of situations; which is exactly what we like to see. The standard of entry was very high too so many of you didn't make the shortlist but got very close to it. We settled upon Mathew Shepherd's story as the winner which is written in an autobiographical style. It's a powerful opening with the narrator stating what he or she does rather than who they are and immediately taking ownership of their responsibility with "my people". There's an admission though that the responsibility is a burden, and that our leader must endure much criticism and ridicule, as though it's part of the job. But, it's a price worth paying. For all this suffering is outweighed by what we sense is a euphoria of being in power. It's an uneasy admission though and there is a disquiet in this revelation that we detect through the description of this feeling as a "demon" for which power is the lifeblood. This is powerful writing and the pace and vocabulary add to the feeling that it's written by a troubled leader who doubts their own motives. Something that could probably be applied to many leaders.


Other shortlisted entries:

He gazed back from the precipice at the expectant crowd. Their faith in his leadership filled his heart with pride. "Lemmings," he cried out. "Follow me."

By  Sim Smailes  

Weaving in and out of inebriated crowds. A sea of flailing arms, hands and feet. I turn my head over my left shoulder. The conga line drags on behind.

By Elly Mitchell  

Was it fried or boiled potatoes she wanted tonight? He frowned; he couldn't recall. Sighing, he stepped out to the balcony to the roar of "Heil Hitler!".

By Matthew Gibson 




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