Thursday, 26 July 2012

And the Winner is...!

Dear Writer,


Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable afternoon going through all of the entries for the very first ever Dear Writer competition.

Well, it was very enjoyable at first, when I was reading all of the wonderful pieces about why the entrants love writing. But then, when it came to deciding upon the winners, it got pretty darned stressful. It was SO difficult to choose!

I’d initially said that I’d have one overall winner and a second and third place. But the quality of the entries was so high that I couldn’t choose between the second and third place, so there will be two joint second prize winners, and I’m adding a runners-up category for the five writers who came closest to getting into the top three, as there was so little to choose between them.

First Prize

So, without further ado, it gives me great, humungous, enormous pleasure to present the overall winner’s entry, by Ama Badu from London.

Why I Love Writing…

Putting into words why I put things into words is tricky. I want to write an elaborate account of how it's the only place I can express myself, about world building, creativity, fantasying, the magic of it. But I cannot. I write because I have to. It is no different to breathing; on the outside I appear okay, but if I stop inside I am suffocating. I can no more tell my mind to stop making stories than to cease reflecting the signals passing between the nerve endings of my brain. This is very inconvenient. And distracting. I'm emotionally strangled most of the time. "A story-making mind. Sounds wonderful", some idiot will tell me before proceeding to press their demands.

The stories get clogged up in worries, desires, fatigue and to do lists and I jump far away from the computer. Stare into an infinite future of menial jobs where the very dregs of people end up; make-up free parading themselves around. Forcefully, miserably I drag myself back to the screen. After typing some words I stare the other way, into a future built on typing some words, envision a cocktail of isolation, rejection slips, late bills, the empty fridge, persistent uncertainty, deadlines. I throw in some alcoholism because writers are drunks...or addicts...apparently, maybe a failed marriage, or four, some sexual deviation. And I press save anyway.

I want to talk to the part of me that enjoys writing, (the clearly insane part) and report what it says. Its silence is eerily pronounced. Though the mantra of expressing beauty, truth and love decorates my response, I know to understand might be at the core of why I write. Understanding myself, the world, others. Others, the world, myself understood. A world of understanding people.

Placing the unfeasible aside however, frankly, why do I write? Plunge into the darkness, chuck up rocks for a pearl. Because birds fly despite planes. Fishes swim despite sharks. Londoners breath despite exhaust fumes. And Ama's write despite the unknown.

I loved this entry because it was so well-written and contained so much passion, emotion, beautiful imagery and humour (please believe me that not ALL writers are alcoholic, sexual deviants though!) It ticked all the boxes for me, and above all, Ama’s passion for writing sings from the page.

So a MASSIVE well done to Ama. She has won a signed copy of Dear Dylan, and me as her writing mentor for a month.

Joint Second Place

In joint second place are Catherine from The Book Parade blog and Jasmine, who blogs at Ebony Black Lines.

Here is Catherine’s entry:

Why I Love Writing…

Words are the most beautiful, magical thing. Soft and sweet, singing stories that sweep you in like spells.
A pen is the most powerful, precious thing. Allows you to express yourself, pour your soul onto a page, capture emotions and memories, evoke emotions and memories.
Pen and words walk hand in hand like bow and arrow – a fearless weapon, capable of piercing the heart and setting it ablaze with hatred, anger, fear, passion.
Pen and words walk hand in hand like bow and cello – a magnificent musical instrument, capable of playing a melody with the heartstrings, humming tunes that sing of sadness, laughter, joy, love.
When you pick up a pen and write, you are powerful. You have the power to travel to exotic worlds, to discover new things, to laugh, to cry, to fall in love. And even more wonderful, you have the power to share this incredible experience with others too.
Infuse your words with your heart and soul, let a little of yourself flow into the words, bringing them to life, making them buzz with realness.
Writing doesn’t disappear. Your words will remain in the world for generations, to enchant others, to inspire others.
This is why I love writing. I can lose myself in words, lose myself in imagination.
I can share a little of myself with the world.
I can be anyone. I can do anything.
I am powerful. I am free.

The thing I loved most about this entry was the beauty of the words and imagery used – it felt like a real love letter to writing and I could relate to it so much. I also LOVE the final line: ‘I am powerful. I am free.’ This sums up so perfectly the beauty of writing to me. Massive well done, Catherine.

Joint Second Place

The other joint second place winner was Jasmine from the Ebony Black Lines blog. Here’s her entry:
Why I Love Writing...
I have always been the girl my parents shake their heads with despair at and mutter, “Always got her head in the clouds, always dreaming,” and I don’t deny it. Whenever I can I close my eyes and dream; Dream of wild fancies, hopeless desires and wishful thoughts. It was my way of freeing myself from the strong bonds of reality and letting my mind rove places that would never be possible. It was also my way of living lives that I knew I would never be able to, or feeling emotions that - I hoped (some of them are scary!!) – I would never experience.
And then books were introduced into my life.
I believe reading is like dreaming with open eyes, you are drawn away on a journey in another person’s shoes and get to live their life for the duration of the book, and maybe that is why I loved reading in the first place, because of its link with dreaming. I would be pulled into the story, living and breathing each characters difficulties, triumphs and feeling every little emotion. Sometimes I would get so wrapped up in the book I would forget about where I was or what day or time it was. And then I realised that that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to capture people with my writing and draw them into a book and share my passion for writing with them so that they can feel the same way...
And now I love writing...I write anything, blogs, stories, diaries. It is the way I express myself into something that will live on, something memorable after I have finished writing, and it is a way in which I can pour my emotions out and entertain people whose opinions I value.

I loved Jasmine’s emphasis on the dreamy aspect of writing and her entry included a line that has stayed with me ever since first reading: ‘I believe reading is like dreaming with open eyes.’ How brilliantly put, and of course you can say exactly the same about writing. Massive well done to you too, Jasmine!

Both second prize winners will receive a signed copy of Dear Dylan plus my detailed feedback on one piece of their work.

Next Week

Next week I will be showcasing the entries of the five writers who came closest to making it to the winning three:

Anna Pilkington
Georgia Walters
Drew Boulton

They will all also receive signed books.

If you entered the competition and weren’t lucky this time round, first of all, thank-you and second, please don’t worry, the standard of the entries was exceptionally high and there will be plenty more to come, with loads of exciting prizes.

Next week, as well as showcasing the runners-up entries, I will be giving you some fun, summer writing prompts to help keep you writing through August.

Till then, enjoy the sunshine and, as always…

Happy writing!

Siobhan x