It was just your average Friday night in the Howard household. After a long day of edits I was splayed on the sofa semi-comatose waiting to see who would be the latest Z-lister to get kicked out of the Celebrity Big Brother house when I heard a strange vibration: my iPhone telling me I had new mail.
As soon as I saw the subject heading – ‘You’re the Adventure Category Winner …’ I knew what this was: the first bit of tangible proof that I could do this thing, that I could actually write. Only six months after starting to take this thing VERY SERIOUSLY I have something to put on my Writer CV.
Let me explain. People have always commented on my writing abilities – English teachers, employers, aunts who get me to write complaint letters to restaurants after they’ve had a bad experience – but what does that mean? Nothing, in short. I can’t very well send an agent a letter saying, ‘My aunt and my English teacher says I have a way with words and so I’m submitting my novel Deluded like a Reality TV Star for your consideration…’ In school I enjoyed some success as a student journalist, but that newspaper basically printed everything they were sent, and I got to go to Paris for a European Youth Press conference because I sent in a lot of stuff and they printed them all. I’ve been back and forth with an agent for a couple of years now and some of the feedback she’s given me has kept me going through my darkest, doubt-filled nights, but I don’t have a book deal.So winning a competition is a first. A great first.
(It also gives me some ammunition with which to defend my reckless decision to quit my job. Always useful.)
I entered a story called Us Versus the Volcano which was originally a post from my Central American Adventures travel blog. It’s the very real story – I still have lava-filled nightmares – of the time my best friend Sheelagh and I climbed an active volcano just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. This picture, taken in the crater, conveys my feelings towards the experience.
You can read my winning story on WanderlustandLipstick.com (click here) and I’d recommend that, if you’re a writer, you sign up Inkwell’s newsletter. It’s based in Ireland but lists writing contests from all over – that’s where I found about this competition.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some basking in glory to do.