February 2018 Short Story Winner & Interview


We are pleased to announce the winner of The Blank Page Challenge for February 2018 as

Jill Patrick

Jill is a freelance writer and proofreader from Canada. She has a BA in European Studies from the University of Guelph, and has worked as a Student Life facilitator, a housekeeper, and a receptionist many times over. She currently lives in her childhood home with her cat and is working on her first novel.

Congratulations to Jill, her story, Paid In Full, taking the top spot in both the judges and public votes.

Jill will receive these amazing prizes for coming first:

Want to know more about your winner? She gave us an interview just before becoming the winner:

Welcome to The Blank Page Challenge winners interview, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi there! My name is Jill, and I’m from a tiny First Nations reservation about an hour’s drive north of Whistler, Canada, though I’ve also lived near Toronto, in Germany, and in England. I’m a serial hobbyist who sneezes in bright light and who needs more friends.

How long have you been writing and are short stories a medium you’ve worked in before?

I used to write all the time, but somewhere around my late teens I stopped writing for fun and put any dream of becoming a published author to bed. But recently that dream has awoken, and I’ve started outlining and drafting novel ideas (pun intended).

PAID IN FULL is the first short story I have ever written. It was never a medium I considered seriously, since it’s so hard to do!

What about The Blank Page Short Story Challenge made you want to get involved?

I re-read Stephen King’s On Writing at the start of the year, and he talks a lot about his history with short story writing. From there, I got curious about what a short story by me would look like.

Coincidentally, I saw a tweet about The Blank Page Challenge while these thoughts were still fresh, and I decided it was a sign that I should give it a try.

Did you enjoy working with our prompt? Did you find inspiration easily or did you need to work on it?

I really loved the prompt! I tend towards the dark and uncanny (which is why I loved Damon’s story…so heart breaking!), so the image really lent itself to creating something with a touch of the forlorn (which is why I loved Brittany’s story, because she totally defied expectations and turned my assumption on its head).

I recognized the setting in the image almost immediately as a national park in Iceland, and I began asking myself questions: Why is there a man standing alone in a canyon, in Iceland, in the dark? Where’s the light coming from? Could he be meeting someone?

And from there I developed a concept — he’s meeting the devil — and developed the concept into characters, motivations, a backstory, etc.

What was the hardest part of writing your story for the Challenge?

For me it was defying the voices in my head that have kept me from putting pen to paper for so long — the voices who tell me I’m not a good writer, that I have no business entering a competition, that I’ll be making a fool of myself — and doing it anyway.

Also, procrastination.

Do you have a process or rituals for writing? If so, what sort of things do you do?

A process is definitely something that I’m still developing, and I’ve tried a few different things. I’ve learned it’s hard for me to write ugly; if I get stuck, I deal with it by stopping and reading what I’ve already written, edit what I can, and then when I get to the point where I left off, I can continue on until I run out of steam again. Probably not the most efficient way of writing, but this way I’m living in all parts of my story throughout the entire process.

But the most important thing for me is to allow for flexibility. Sometimes things aren’t going to go right, but the important thing is that I get it done anyway.

When we notified you that you’d made the top three, how did you celebrate?

I’m on the West Coast, so I woke up to the email. I squee’d and flapped my arms a little (my cat was alarmed), before sharing the news with my family.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to enter our next short story challenge, which starts on Monday 19th?

Do it!!! Whether you’re an experienced short story writer, a writer with only dreams and abandoned projects to show, or you’re somewhere in between, The Blank Page Challenge is the perfect way to practice your craft and develop an idea around a brief. Plus, the community is great, and everyone has been incredibly supportive.

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity! I am so lucky that the judges saw something in my little story and were so generous with their feedback.

You can keep track of Jill on her Twitter and via her website: jillpatrick-vla.com



  1. Well deserved, Jill! Great job, great story. Pretty darn classy of you to mention Brittany and I, too. Thanks for that. It was good for me to read your thoughts on your process and approach.



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