Cathy Olliffe (Third Place), Robert M. Murdoch (Second Place), Paul Feist (Honourable Mention)
and Karen Wehrstein (First Place) happily clutch their certificates and cheques following
award presentations for the Muskoka Short Story Contest, hosted by
Gravenhurst's Blank Page Writers Group and Metroland North Media.
The reading night was held in the Gravenhurst Public Library
last Thursday evening.
Photo by Dave Webster
Maybe it was just coffee and cookies in the children's room at the local library but, to me, it was a really, really big shew.
Winning third place in the Muskoka Short Story Contest was an affirmation that maybe I can write. That maybe I don't completely suck. That maybe writing is a worthwhile pursuit. That maybe I can seriously consider doing more of this.
I'm just full of confidence, aren't I? Hey, you're no different - show me a writer and I'll show you a bundle of insecurity, pronouns and emotional wreckage. I was reading what Jon Strother had to say about writers needing to develop a thick skin and I can no sooner do that than wake up 50 pounds lighter and 25 years younger with blonde hair.
I think all of the writers who placed in the contest were equally amazed to be there. And yet all of them display an extraordinary amount of talent.
I know Paul a little bit - he just stepped away from his long-time career at the Bracebridge Examiner, where I work designing ads and he worked selling them. He was a joy around the office, with his booming voice and his self-deprecating humour. He is definitely missed and it was a pleasure to see him and his lovely wife on Thursday.
Robert Murdoch, the second prize winner, was probably the most surprised about his award. He doesn't profess to be a writer but boy, does he know how to put pen to paper. Robert's funny story Lessons Hard Learned about setting his outdoor woodstove (and the neighbourhood) on fire kept everybody giggling.
Muskoka Novel Marathon, Karen wrote Her Husband's Killer as a futuristic sci fi loaded with real human emotion. If you love science fiction, you'll want to check out Karen's website Chevenga Lives.
As for me, I couldn't have been any more tickled, standing up at the front of the room, reading For Bella, the story about a man who drowned his children in a rain barrel; a horrible story, but something I felt compelled to write.
My prize was $25. That's a lot of money. Not sure what I'm going to do with it. I am thinking of framing it and hanging it on a wall. The first money I ever made writing fiction.
Look out, Stephen King, here I come.
By the way I'm nervous and pumped about the Muskoka Novel Marathon. Thirty writers (a full house) will be devoting the entire weekend to being in one room in Huntsville, glued to their computers, trying to write the bones of a novel in that short amount of time.
Are they crazy?
Am I crazy?
More than just a way to get some writing done, the marathon is also a fundraiser for literacy. I've been collecting pledges from everyone I know, and now am compelled to show up and try to write something.
I've never, ever seriously considered writing a novel. It sounds BIG. Almost TOO BIG. Ostentatious, even.
Eegads, what am I getting myself into?
More on this later... by the way, if you feel you have to send me big lumps of cash, I will not turn you down. It's a good cause.
Scary, oh yeah.