Jane Austen

How to interpret ‘Important Nothings’

01 May 2017
Jane Austen

Looking for inspiration for the Creative Future Literary Awards? Here’s more information on this year’s theme – ‘Important Nothings’.

The theme for this year’s Creative Future Literary Awards is ‘Important Nothings’, taken from a letter Jane Austen wrote to her sister:

“My dear Cassandra, Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” – Jane Austen, June 15, 1808

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Jane wrote in a time when female novelists were extremely under-represented, and so we are pleased to celebrate her life and works by using her quote as inspiration for this year’s competition.

Although Jane wrote critiques on British gentry, the Creative Future Literary Award judges are looking forward to reading poetry and prose in all genres. Below are some possible interpretations of the theme to kick-start your creativity, but you can use this to spark any new piece of writing.

Nothing is written in stoneAn oxymoron

‘Important Nothings’ is an oxymoron – a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. How can something be both ‘important’ and ‘nothing’ at the same time?

You might want to use this as a springboard to think of other types of oxymorons. Other famous examples include:

  • You have to be cruel to be kind.
  • Alone together.
  • Deafening silence.


Old bearThe everyday

Do you have something that might seem unimportant to others, but has significance to you? Perhaps a childhood toy, or a song on the radio. These might be ‘important nothings’.

Try writing about your own possessions, or going to a local antique shop and viewing what objects other people might have deemed important long ago.


White spaceWhite space

In design, empty space on a page can sometimes be just as important as the space that is filled.

Can you think of other times when something missing would be important? Perhaps a day off on a calendar, or an empty seat at a table.


However you interpret this year’s theme, we hope you enjoy the writing process and we look forward to reading your work.


Submit to the literary awards, here. 




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