I recently entered a writing competition run by Carousel Writers, a writing centre and writer’s retreat in the Dublin mountains. The prompt was ‘I am a writer’ and the challenge was to write 300 words on that subject. Having received some pretty crushing writing-related news earlier that week, I didn’t feel like much of a writer at all. I didn’t feel like writing one word, let alone 300, or an entire novel! But I wrote my 300 words. And guess what – I won the competition!
Here’s my winning entry and thanks so much to Carolann Copland for running the competition. I’m looking forward to hiding away and writing, writing, writing!
I am a writer
Ahead, I see only the dazzling, brilliant white of unexplored terrain; virgin, clear and crisp. I blink and stare; wait for my eyes to adjust in the pre-dawn light. Then I begin.
Step by tentative step, I traverse the page, conscious of the notorious Cliffs of Self Doubt which stand ominously to my left. I press on, ignoring the endless chatter from the River of Clichés which runs alongside me. I step confidently over the Boulders of Poor Dialogue which lie straight ahead. Somehow, I circumnavigate all these obstacles, my characters leading the way, until we reach a fork in the road and they stop.
‘Which way now?’ I cry, urgently. ‘Which way?’
They turn to me. ‘We don’t know,’ they shrug. ‘It’s up to you.’
It’s up to me.
I hesitate, uncertain which direction to take; unsure of my footing on either of the roads ahead. I gaze hopefully up at the clouds above, willing them to help me. And then it comes.
A single, fragile flake of inspiration drifts gently down and settles on my hand; the thrilling sensation of idea wonderful against my skin. Then, more delicate flakes settle all around me, each one a word, a sentence, a perfect paragraph.
I turn to my left. ‘This way,’ I cry. ‘Quickly, it’s this way!’
We run together, my characters and I, words tumbling through my mind, my frozen fingers reaching out to grasp them before they disappear forever.
Sometimes, I am an arctic explorer crossing a barren wilderness. Sometimes, I am a passenger scrambling towards the last lifeboat on the Titanic. Sometimes, I am a wretched little girl, clutching a bunch of violets on the filthy streets of Victorian London.
Today, I am all of these things.
Today, I am a writer.