Stephanie Butland

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My friends, you know I love a birthday, and that after my dance with cancer you’ll never hear me complain about getting old.

So to celebrate being 46, I’m going to have a competition.

I’m giving you 250 words to write something life-affirming. It can be absolutely anything at all – poetry, tiny play, story. It needs to be within the word limit and it needs to make me smile.


250 words; emailed to me here no later than 15th July.


I’ll send you a signed book and a lovely knitted something. And I’ll publish your words here and share it all over social media.


Everyone who enters can claim a £25 discount on my writing retreat in November, so long as you book before the end of July (though there aren’t many places available). Details here.

Happy writing!


  1. Nichola Wilks says:


    Life can be hard. Life IS hard. At times. But it can also be joyful. It’s the look on your child’s face when he thinks you don’t know he pinched the biscuit. The twinkle in your dogs eyes when you take the tennis ball and throw it instead of shoving it out of the way. It’s the side glance from your husband when your kids say something rude but hilarious, and you can’t let them know you have heard them. It’s the first bite of fish and chips on the beach, the sip of the chilled Sauvignon blanc after a long day.
    The crack of your joints when you stretch out in bed, the tingle of your skin when you sink into a hot bath.
    All of these things are there to make you feel alive. They’re there to remind you that, despite everything trying to prove otherwise, life IS good. It’s happy, exciting, fun, crazy and wild. It’s also sad, hard, tiring, trying and rough. But as they say, we wouldn’t have light without the shade, we wouldn’t have love without hate. But there it is.
    We have life. And it’s something to be cherished, embraced, and lived!

  2. Fiona sharp says:

    Do I email it to you?

  3. Finding a father, a half-brother and three dead half-sisters after 73 years doesn’t change who I am, but it helps me understand a little better how I came to be me.

    A wartime baby is what I was. Father unknown, a mother who couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth. Taken in by maternal grandparents and passed around the family during school holidays I was happy enough. Thanks to the war being fatherless didn’t single me out in any special way other than there not being a photograph on the sideboard, but even these went as mums remarried and started life all over again. My mother did the same when I was nine and left me forever.

    At 62 I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral and an uncle with dementia said “I knew your dad. A good bloke, good at football he was. Irish”, then he retreated back into his shell.

    Thanks to a DNA test I had a couple of years ago, I found out the Irish bit was true: 55% Irish, 28% Scandinavian, just 6% British and 11% little bits, I understood where my lifelong dislike of authority came from. Then a website posting of my DNA found a second cousin and this quickly led to me finding a half-brother and the coincidences began to pile up. We shared the same name, as did our wives and two grand-daughters, plus the same smile.

    A little late our journey together has just begun.