THIS Friday sees the publication of the annual Best British Short Stories anthology.

Since 2011, this wonderful collection has pulled together the very best stories published in the previous calendar year.

For this year only, the editors have modified this criteria slightly, as one of my own short stories has found its way into the collection.

More embarrassing still, my story has ended up at the beginning.

The reason for this is that my piece, Rings, is set on New Year’s Day, 2020.

Chronologically, if not quality-wise, it’s a logical place to begin.

But having dipped into the collection when checking page proofs, I know that far greater stories lie further on in the book.

It has been a strange experience revisiting my writing for the collection.

Rings is set around Old Sarum, and was originally intended to chime with the beginning of the 800th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral – eight centuries on from when the foundation stone was laid.

Legend has it that an arrow was fired from Old Sarum and where it landed was where the cathedral was built.

When I wrote the piece, and when it was published in January 2020, it was intended to be a story of hope, of looking forward.

But then something called Covid-19 came along and the piece now has a somewhat different, more ominous feel.

It will be interesting to see what readers make of it now.

The quality of writing in the rest of the collection shows that the short story as an art form continues to go from strength to strength.

Short stories are different skill to writing a novel.

There, the secret is often in the structure: constructing the narrative in a way that persuades the reader to keep turning the pages.

A good novel, for me, is also about change: as a writer you have the opportunity of showing that shift over time, and how a person can be a different person at the end of events to how they were at the beginning.

Short stories are different.

They’re more fleeting, more fragmentary, about capturing an individual moment and leaving the reader to interpret its significance.

VS Pritchett once famously described a short story as ‘something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.’

When I first started writing fiction many, many moons ago, I fell in love with the short stories of the American writer Raymond Carver.

His advice on writing short fiction could be summed up in six words: ‘Get in. Get Out. Don’t Linger.’

Today, the short story flame is carried by such talents as Irenosen Okojie,

Lucy Caldwell, Eley Williams and Mira Sethi – wonderful writers who run rings around my own modest efforts.