Do you remember I sent in a story for a writing contest? For the first time ever? Well, it won! My story was chosen as the winner by the jury.
The contest took place in November and originally the award ceremony was scheduled for December, but due to lockdown, they wanted to postpone the event, hoping for a moment when they would be allowed to organise the ceremony in person. As restrictions got extended even further they caved in and opted for an online event instead. That event took place last night.
All nominees were invited to read their story and a wonderful singer sung a few songs in between. Nobody knew who the winners would be, except for the jury of course. The organiser first invited the first six stories, those who didn’t win a prize, in random order. So there was a bit of tension building up during the night. I constantly expected to be the next one to be asked to read, but to my biggest surprise I was not part of the first six. That meant my story ended up in the top 3. Clearly my story became third, so I thought. But I wasn’t called for third position. Then it was between me and one other candidate. The jury started reading an intro about who became second. What? That’s not the theme of my story. Wait. What?! I won? I won!
That came as a surprise. I feel flattered that others liked my story. It’s a great compliment. Winning wasn’t my goal writing this story. I thoroughly enjoyed doing some research about the town I now call my home and then imagining what could have happened centuries ago. Nevertheless, it’s great to know that is was a good story after all. A big encouragement to keep writing. And show them to others.
One of Daughter’s new books, kindly gifted by Sinterklaas Grandma, includes the challenge to spot all the letters on one page that put together form a word. Daughter was up for this challenge. We both searched for the letters and Daughter wrote them down. I then spelled the correct order to form the word. Just drawing letters gets a bit boring after a while. Hence the decoration.
I was a bit surprised how easily she recognised all the letters and wrote them down. It’s not something we practiced before. So here you go. Daughter’s first words put to paper.
On to the next stage of learning language.
I stepped out of my comfort zone this month. Big time. At the end of October I came across an announcement for a writing contest, organised by the local library. It’s theme was ‘Small histories, big stories’. I mulled over the theme for a bit and to my own surprise an idea for a story presented itself. I started writing and within a few days I had it proof read and finished. Then I did something rather unusual for me. I actually sent it in.
Last Wednesday (it’s Friday when I write this) I received an e-mail that my story was selected as one of the nominees. That means that the general public is now able to vote on nine selected stories, including mine. The popular vote is the fourth price next to the jury prices. The jury already decided who they award first, second and third price, but keep that a secret until the public voted as well.
Some years ago I had long conversations with my coach (a well-trained psychologist) about being an introvert entrepreneur. My biggest hurdle to become successful as an entrepreneur was my fear of getting out there. While I wanted to be seen and recognized I didn’t dare to put myself out there. For a solo entrepreneur to be seen, the one thing you have to do is make yourself seen and heard. Ever since those conversations I have been taking baby steps in the world outside my home office. Sending in a short story for a low profile writing contest is one of them.
Since I heard about my nomination the baby steps turned into leaps forward. I recognised this moment as an opportunity to step even further out of my comfort zone and learn from it. Therefore I started contacting friends and family to read my story and vote for me. As I’m no longer a user of social media, the only option for me to reach out to people is via e-mail or direct messages. I sent it to my Random Stories mailing list, of course, but also to my extended family, the new friends I made in Amersfoort, neighbours, Daughter’s teachers, parents of Daughter’s friends. In other words, I tried to reach out to as many people as I could think of to ask them for their attention, their time and their vote. Talking about uncomfortable squared!
Then the reactions came in. One person after another sent me compliments about my story. How they love the perspective I chose for this story, how impressed they were with my writing, that they learned new things about their city, that they felt sad the story ended so quickly (the consequence of the thousand words limit the jury demanded), that they were wondering what my main character would have seen more during that era.
I’m wearing a smile on my face while I’m writing this. I thoroughly enjoyed digging around the history of Amersfoort. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story, whipping it into shape within the limitation of a thousand words. I thoroughly enjoyed receiving so many positive reactions. Let this be the definitive reminder to my introvert self that reaching out to others results in joy.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine reminded me to write more. Write more stories. As my mind was occupied with ‘how the heck do I survive this covid19 thing’ there was too little room for stories in my head. I tried. But there was just too little headspace. Until now.
Yesterday, I decided it’s time to get back into a story mode again. As my story moleskine is nearly full, I bought a new notebook. And to make it even more friction-less to start writing I bought an accompanying fountain pen that I can attach to the notebook.
May the stories flow.