I did something different recently. I wrote a short story for a competition based on a photograph. The photograph is one that was over all the newspapers earlier this year and which, for copyright reasons, I am unable to reproduce here. It was of a little boy on a beach. A little refugee boy in a red T-shirt, navy shorts and grey trainers who was washed up on a beach in Turkey. His name was Aylan Kurdi. You'll remember the picture. And the security guard, a tall man in black boots, who carried the little body to higher ground.
The competition had a theme. It was "tidal". So, anything to do with water, the sea, beaches, etc. I knew this photograph would fit with the theme, but I had no idea where to start with the story. What did I know about the refugee crisis, how did I feel about it?
I used a character who was a bit like me, not strongly committed to any particular viewpoint, and I forced her to meet someone who was committed, who challenged her opinions. And made her reassess her life. When I submitted the story I thought it still needed work, but my writing friends told me I'd succeeded in making it thought-provoking, if nothing else.
Anyway, I've been told that my story has reached the longlist - 17 entries were picked out of 245. So it must have some merit. And I will keep you posted on its progress.
But I thought it worth mentioning here. It's something I might try again another day. As a writer I have sometimes been told that it's my job to bring topical issues to the notice of readers, but it's not something I've done before. I usually steer clear of controversy. But now I feel just a little bit more confident.