John Kellie, winner of the 1999 Bradt Travel Writing Competition on his experiences after the competition
When I first set my heart on writing for publication, I found that two commodities in serious short supply were encouragement and confidence. Winning the 1999 Bradt Travel Writing Competition gave me a leg up on both counts. I'd submitted a short piece based on a chance encounter on the streets of Delhi which had been bubbling away in my mind ever since. When the competition judge, Matthew Parris, described my entry as "spare and unfussy" he taught me something valuable. My best writing came when I wasn't straining for effect.
Success in the competition made me dogged. For the first time I had official confirmation that I could write, and if a story didn't happen to meet one editor's requirements, then I realised that there were other publications out there where it might well find a home. I didn't always aim for the top. Better by far, I reckoned, to have readers of small-scale and local magazines seeing my work than leave it to languish, unread and unloved, on my hard disc. As time went on my stories found their way into a variety of magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as into tabloid and broadsheet newspapers, and I made short contributions to a couple of books. Finally I took a deep breath and gave up the day job, and I'm now keeping fingers resolutely crossed as I wrestle daily with what I hope might emerge in due course as a fully-fledged book. When I look back at how things have developed over the last fourteen years, there's no doubt in my mind that winning the Bradt Competition was a pivotal moment.