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Disclaimer: There are too many firsts in this post. You have been warned!
It was a pleasant surprise for me when my entry, Black Love, won first prize at Bookbed.org‘s very first fiction writing contest held this year. Writing a love story about Philippine mythological creatures like tikbalang (horse demon) and kapre (tree demon) was a first for me. I made a lot of research, asked a number of my friends, and thought of at least three plots before I came up with the one I wrote. Black Love is a speculative love story that will touch your hearts and astound your minds.
I was particularly grateful for the comments of some of the judges:
“The story starts in medias res, which makes it exciting. The pacing was perfect and so was the narrative.”
“Was very excited for this prompt, and loved how the writer grounded the story in a local setting and employed even more local mythical creatures. The reveal of the twist was satisfying and effectively unnerving given how the writer endeared the characters to the readers.”
“Fairytale feel. The voice is delivered clearly. It did not lose the momentum. Fascinating story!”
I remember my first ever win in a writing contest. It was years ago, back in 1991. I wrote a short story entitled, “The Sekyutib (Executive) Dream” in a contest sponsored by Clover Typewriter and a female magazine which name I can no longer recall. It was that long ago! “The Sekyutib Dream” is about a street boy who washes car windows during traffic lulls in EDSA for a fee. He meets a generous, young female executive whom he idolised. In the end, his dream of becoming an executive like her was brought to a tragic end when he was accused of stealing and was subsequently shot to death. I can still remember the call I got from the contest representative when she informed me I won, saying that she cried when she read my story.
Unfortunately, my manuscript was lost in the passage of time. Gosh, it was written in Wordstar! The disk was lost when we transferred houses. My trophy was lost, too. Funny, but the typewriter I won as prize, the reason why I joined that contest in the first place, is with my brother still. I don’t know if it still works, though. Certainly it can now be considered an antique piece!
After that first win, I should have continued writing. But I worked full-time, and I cast aside my imaginary pen. So it was a really nice surprise to win again, after so-so years. (I dare not count!) It gave my constant self-doubt a boost, motivated me to challenge myself and hone my writing skills. Joining competitions can be a practical way to learn more, write more, and improve one’s writing.
Winning first place in a writing competition does not make me a great writer. I don’t pretend to be the best writer out there. I’m not even good, as per my standards, and I’m sure as with other accomplished writers’ standards too. But every day, I try to learn and do things that make me a better writer than I was yesterday. And I think that’s the most important thing.
Want to read my winning entry, Black Love? Click HERE.