“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.”
― Chris Grosser
In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d won a contest in writing. One of you so very kindly asked if there was a link so folks could read it! Alas, the contest was a bit small, and the winning entries were posted in the e-newsletter only to those who subscribe to it. So, I thought I’d share it here for anyone who’s interested.
The contest was through the Institute for Writers, where I’d previously taken a writing course, and have stayed up to date with their content since completing the course about a year ago. Periodically, they announce a contest to stretch one’s writing muscles in ways we’re unaccustomed to, should we choose to enter. This was the second time I’d entered – and I entered two different pieces for this one. The contest was: Personal Essay – A trip that didn’t go as planned. The only requirements were that it be 1. true, and 2. 1,000 words or less.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison
The first entry was Road Trip, which I posted about here. That one didn’t even get an honorable mention. But that’s OK – because JULES saw its merit and I won something completely different, unexpected, and some may say BETTER than the Institute’s prize. You can check our her shout out to Road Trips here. By the way, the prize from Jules arrived yesterday and I was just as giggle-ridden when I opened it as when I’d first seen the photo on her blog post!
Here is my second entry. Warning, it’s Christmasy – and here we are only in July.
UNPLANNED TRIP PERSONAL ESSAY CONTEST WINNER
1st Place – THE WARMTH OF THE SEASON
I checked my Christmas list for the third time in as many minutes, but the words blurred before my unfocused eyes. My mind wandered back to the ill-kept man in the parking lot with his backpack and cardboard sign. I really need a blanket, it read. Have you ever seen a cardboard sign so specific before?
I looked down again as I curled the edge of the paper back and forth. Dollar bin stocking stuffers, board game, blankets… No wonder that man’s sign was stuck in my head. There it was again, staring back at me in my own handwriting.
Now, I know what you might be thinking; I think the same thing every year. Sometimes, though, the necessities make it onto the Christmas list just so my 3 boys have a few more presents to open beside the assorted relatives’ gifts. Pajamas, jeans, and jackets all make the list, although I haven’t resorted to socks and underwear yet. Thankfully, Santa still stops by with a toy that they’ve been aching for.
The throng of holiday shoppers that surrounded me quickly brought my attention back to the task at hand. Before long, I found myself in front of stacks of neatly folded blankets, all filled with the scent of having as yet been untouched by small children with peanut butter on their hands.
It was the big red and white tag that caught my eye first: On Sale Today Only. How in the world had I managed to overlook this in the store circular? Some quick, calculator-assisted math told me all I needed to know. Four blankets would cost the same as the three I intended to buy unbeknownst of the sale. My heart danced as I made my four blanket selections.
I left the store and approached him slowly, blanket in hand. “This is for you,” I said.
His smile grew so large that his cheeks rose all the way up and caused a tear to escape his eye. “Thank you so much, it’s been so cold,” he half whispered and extended his hand. “My name is John.”
John. A common enough name, surely. Also the name of my own father, and my son.
I took his outstretched hand in my own. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, John. I hope this brings you warmth this season.” My smile rivaled his own.
The winners were announced over a webcast at 5PM, meaning that I jumped into my car that night at 5 on the nose so I could tune in while I was driving. They of course started with fifth place, and read each one as the winning author was announced. When they arrived at third place, then second place, I thought to myself, “Wow, these are such great stories. There’s no way my name’s coming up next.”
“And now for our First Place Winner – it shows she’s logged into the webcast, so let’s all congratulate her!” Then she said my name.
I swore, I swerved, I slapped the steering wheel repeatedly!
Holy friggin crap. She said my name. And what’s more? She was reading my friggin essay!
I’ve been told my whole life that I can’t write. That I’m not great at this. That my work is “okay”and I have a “grasp” of the rules of writing, but that nothing would ever come of it. It’s only been since the start of this blog last April, that I decided to see if anyone else had a differing opinion.
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
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