In 2017 I joined a writing group at our church, and at one of our meetings our leader announced a writing competition by the Northumberland Festival of the Arts. I was encouraged to enter and set about writing my short story. Editing proved to be worrying when I found that every sentence contained an abundance of room for improvement and the words, “could do better,” haunted my dreams.
On March 11, 2019 at 9:18 PM, with a great deal of fortitude I forced myself to consider my work complete. At 11:01 PM my registration was complete and my story was on its way. Emotions ranged from hopeful anticipation to confidence to dread of rejection, but since the “Eeyore” part of me was convinced that my first attempt at literature would not be successful, I almost forgot about the competition.
In June an email arrived from Susan Statham announcing that I was the winner of the short story contest. At first I couldn’t believe it, and for the next week I read it a dozen times a day to make sure I really had won. Being cautiously giddy about winning, I didn’t tell very many people in case there might be another email telling me that there had been a mistake and someone else had won. Not only did I really win, but I was also invited to Cobourg for the book launch in October.
My entourage, which consisted of my niece Susan and her daughter Amy, immediately went into action. They bought me a new dress and planned how they would get me there. The day of the launch was a Cinderella experience. Susan and Amy arrived and helped me into my new dress. Susan, armed with brushes and a curling iron, did my hair while Amy set out an amazing amount of makeup applicators, brushes, and box after box of makeup colours. My face was then moistened, “concealered,” contoured, highlighted, shaded and coloured. When they finished I looked and felt like a movie star, and to add to the glamour, Amy loaned me her lovely black cape with faux fur trim.
The next problem was getting me to the car. The only way I could travel in my power wheelchair was by taxi which would cost a few hundred dollars so Susan sat me on my walker and pushed me out to the car. After a few minutes of trial and error, I made it into the car and Cinderella was off to the ball.
After a smooth and uneventful trip from Whitby, we arrived in Cobourg and I was helped out of the car, which was easier than getting in, and loaded onto my walker. Susan took me in to a table in front of the stage. The entertainment was wonderful; there was music, readings of prose and poetry, and a lady who sang about Nova Scotia. The man who won the poetry contest and I were presented with copies of the Hill Spirits anthology.
Writing my story, winning the contest, and having my words printed in a book was a most exciting accomplishment, and a memory I will always treasure.