After 10 years of trying, Carl Nixon has finally taken the top prize in the prestigious Katherine Mansfield short story competition.
The Christchurch author took the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield premier prize of $10,000 for his story, My Beautiful Balloon.
Creative writing graduate Craig Cliff won the novice category with Another Language, and year 13 student Mark Davidson, from St Patrick's College in Wellington, took the young writer's award for Man's Best Friend.
Nixon beat more than 430 contestants to take the top award, announced in Wellington last night.
He said after 10 years of entering the competition, winning felt like a true vindication of the effort he had put into his writing.
"The Katherine Mansfield contest is, to my mind, New Zealand's pre-eminent short story competition. It's a real thrill to have my name appear alongside those of past winners, many of whom are my own literary heroes."
Premier category judge Fiona Kidman said despite the very high standard of submissions, Nixon's story emerged as a clear winner.
"I found My Beautiful Balloon beautifully crafted, with unfaltering artistic judgment. It is an accomplished and compelling piece of work."
Cliff won $1500, as did Davidson and his school.