I Won My First Short Story Contest! (A Message of Gratitude)

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Last November, for the first time, I entered a short story competition desiring nothing more than to test myself and hopefully have people read my work. To my utter disbelief, I got an email telling me I was one of three finalists! And then, because Gaia wasn’t done surprising me, I won the contest.

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my friend Joe managed to capture the moments when I learned I won.

One week later, I’m still genuinely shocked to have been picked a winner. The phrase “Angasa Salome, award winning writer” is taking some getting used to (don’t get me wrong, it certainly has a pretty ring to it).

When I learned that I was a finalist, I had a difficult time asking for help and I wasn’t very sure that anyone would actually be interested in my words. But they were. I got more support than I could have ever expected and I supremely thankful for the efforts of everyone who helped me.

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Thank you to the judges – Beaton Galafa, Dave Mankhokwe Namusanya and Amos A. Nsabwe.

The best surprise – better even than winning – has been sharing this experience with Tamanda Kanjaye and Kennedy Kaula. It was wonderful to meet a new fellow creative in Ken, whose beautiful poetic prose I hope I can learn for my own craft. It was beautiful to experience this Tamada, one of my closest friends (and the person who encouraged me to enter the competition in the first place!). I can’t wait to see where writing takes us.

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10 Things Girls Should Not Be Afraid of Doing

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1. Being “difficult”

The world doesn’t like a “difficult” woman. We’re a problem. If you have the audacity to unapologetically be you, the likely story is that people will regard you as hard. Hard because you demand to be taken seriously. Hard because you expect to be treated like you matter. If having agency and prioritising your self worth makes you difficult then pussy up and be difficult.   

2. Asking someone out

My sister, it’s 2017. If you like the person, let them know. What are you afraid of? Rejection? Don’t be. It happens! You shot your shot. It didn’t work out the way you wanted but at least you gave it a go. Another person who’s all kinds of hot sauce and gravy will come along. But if you never ask, you’ll never know.

3. Pursuing Your Dreams

I know it can feel like your dreams are too gigantic especially in Malawi where we are inundated, implicitly or explicitly, with the false idea that we are so much less than our male counterparts. You know what I say to that? Bull-fucking-shit! You contain multitudes. Your dreams are amazing. Do not let other people’s doubts get in the way of your ambitions.

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4. Enjoying Sex

Are you an adult woman? Great. I have news for you: it’s your goddamn right to enjoy sex. You are allowed to express your sexuality in the way you want. You want to have sex only in a relationship? Awesome. You want noncommittal sex? Great. As long as the sex you’re having is safe and consensual, don’t allow others to shame you for enjoying it.

5. Enjoying celibacy 

Are you an adult woman? Great. I have news for you: it’s your goddamn right to enjoy celibacy. Like I said before, you are allowed to express your sexuality in the way you want to. Nobody should make you feel unusual about it. Your choices are what matter.

6. Being proud of your accomplishments

I have to confess. I’m guilty of doing this all the time. I have a tendency to undermine my own achievements. I probably used to think I was showing humility every time I’d play down my accomplishments but I now think it just shows a poor self-image. I’m going to work on owning my successes. You should too!

7. Being Feminist

A lot of people like to make feminism complicated but it’s very simple. Our good old friend Wikipedia defines feminism as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Emphasis on equality! There are a lot of faux feminists out there who think that feminism begins and ends at “men are trash”. But feminism is more than just tweeting that guys are fuck boys. It’s about uplifting and supporting women in any capacity that you are able to. It’s not about being superior to men – it’s about being equal.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ―Gloria Steinem

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…you shouldn’t be afraid to claim feminism. If you are a feminist, you should be proud of the fact that you’re an advocate for equality. Not ashamed.

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8. Outgrowing people or Removing Toxic People From Your Life

Removing toxic people from your life is a no brainer. People who drain you, bring emotional chaos and do not support you are not people who should be a part of your life. Their presence in your life won’t enrich it in any way – get rid of them!

What about when they’re not toxic? What if you’ve just outgrown each other?

It  hurts when the connections we once held close and dear to us seem to be fading. But it’s life. People who were your best friends turn into people you nod politely at in the street. People you used to talk to everyday turn into casual acquaintances. As you grow, your path can diverge from those people who used to be very important. But it’s okay. It’s natural. You have to find a way to accept that though they held a dear place in your heart, we’re not all supposed to stay in each other’s lives forever. We shouldn’t fear outgrowing people. We should just learn how to deal with it when it does happen.

9. Setting Boundaries

I can tell you from experience that setting boundaries is one of the most vital things a young woman can do as early as possible. When you set boundaries for what is acceptable behaviour from the people around you (and yourself), it will help you build relationships and friendships that are respectful, supportive and caring.

(Read More: 10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries)

10. Radical Self Love

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A woman loving herself is a revolutionary act. The world never seems to be shy of voices criticising us and putting us down. Heck, there are entire industries built on preying on the insecurities of women. To love yourself, against all this folly, is rebellion. And it’s so very important.

(Read More: Self-Love Must Come First: How to Love Yourself By Joyce Marter)

I love the saying, “Life’s too short to be at war with yourself.” Because it really is. Instead of spending the entirety of your existence in the cosmos being your own enemy, wouldn’t it be so much better and worthwhile to truly be in touch with who you are. To prioritise yourself and your self-care?

We mustn’t be afraid to embrace who we are and love it.

[notes]: February Wrap-Up

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Life Lately

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I paid the fees. I can take selfies in the hall if I want to…

After being closed for half a year, my university opened again. I’ve been ready to be back in a classroom for months so it was a more than welcome development. For about five minutes. And then college was just as exhausting and tedious as it has always been. Careful what you wish for!

On a personal front, this month was pretty messy. In many ways, much of this messiness was thrust upon me but I certainly contributed to its potency by participating in emotionally chaotic interactions. I’m happy to say I eventually did what I was always supposed to do – ignore external toxic forces and focus on my own self-care. But I think it’s time I learned how to make that my go-to response.

On a trivial narcissistic note, I said goodbye to my white/grey braids but not before stunting one final time because of course I did.

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word of the month: forward

Books I Read

Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Full disclosure, I didn’t complete reading this and I haven’t exactly been clamouring to find the time to. I don’t know. I like it a lot but it’s been a long time since I read something heavy where reading felt like an investment.

Reading Challenge progress: 2.5/20

Music

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sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Bonus: NAV – Some Way ft. The Weeknd

Films & TV, Etc.

Moana. I loved it. I knew from the start I would. It gave me all the feeling and ugh, you guys…

Westworld. One of the most compelling shows I missed out on in 2016 was Westworld and every part of it was as captivating and thought-provoking as the reviews said. If you still haven’t seen this, you must!

The Good Fight. I was completely obsessed with The Good Wife so I obviously had high hopes for its spin-off (especially given how awful and satisfying TGW was in the end)…I’m not disappointed! There’s a lot of room for improvement but I’m already totally in love with Michelle and Robert King’s style of courtroom hijinks. I can’t wait to devour this.

The video for Sturgill Simpson’s “All Around You” is all kinds of beautiful. I love everything about this.

February Posts

‘Like Family’ by Paolo Giordano [book review]

Without Losing a Piece of Me, How Do I Get to Heaven?


How did February teach you? What do you want March to bring?

‘Like Family’ by Paolo Giordano [book review]

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Synopsis:

When Signora A first enters the narrator’s home, his wife, Nora, is experiencing a difficult pregnancy. First as their maid and nanny, then their confidante, this older woman begins to help her employers negotiate married life, quickly becoming the glue in their small household. She is the steady, maternal influence for both husband and wife, and their son, Emanuele, whom she protects from his parents’ expectations and disappointments. But the family’s delicate fabric comes undone when Signora A is diagnosed with cancer. Moving seamlessly between the past and present, Giordano highlights with remarkable precision the joy of youth and the fleeting nature of time. An elegiac, heartrending, and deeply personal portrait of marriage and the people we choose to call family, this is a jewel of a novel—short, intense, and unforgettable.

I would describe Like Family as a pleasant afternoon read – short, easy and charming. A great way to kill some time and lose yourself in prose for a while? Oh, absolutely! A must read that will totally change your life or resonate with you on a deeply emotional level? Probably not.

This isn’t a bad novel by any means but I didn’t identify anything particularly special about it. Let’s start with the good though.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetbuy the book: wordery // amazon uk // amazon us // barnes and noble

The narrative moves between the past and the present very fluidly. In fact, from an author’s perspective, the structure was something that intrigued me a lot. I was slightly confused, at first, by the changing tenses and going back and forth but I quickly began to appreciate the rhythm of Giordano’s narrative. It’s one of the things that really elevated my reading experience since Like Family doesn’t have much of a plot.

It’s also a charming tale. It’s unfortunate that Giordano’s characters feel so archetypical. None of them left much of an impression beyond the fact that they are very recognizable in life. You’ve met these people. They’re your parents. Your teachers. Your significant others. They are very real.

In Like Family, Giordano gives a portrait of a family. I think what was missing from the story is a true sense of intimacy. Throughout the tale, I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone. I just kept waiting to see what happened.

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I think the best stories have you rooting for or against somebody. They have you invested in what happens to the characters that are portrayed. While his rumination on this family (and their nanny) was often delicate and very well considered, I just didn’t feel much for them.

I was underwhelmed by Like Family (especially considering all the praise for The Solitude of Prime Numbers) but I can’t deny that if you take it for what it is – a simple story about a family and someone very important to them – it’s good enough for you to give a chance if you ever come across it.

And while it may not be Giordano’s best showing, it does have me excited about checking out some of his other work.

Final thoughts:

If you are looking for an intense, plot driven novel that will give you all the feels, then Like Family isn’t your novel. But if you want to experience a delicate narrative about one family and the maid/nanny that means so much to them then Like Family may just delight you.

My verdict:

★★★✩✩

Goodreads rating:

★★★✩✩

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Memorable Quotes:

  • “There is nothing more we can do when faced with someone’s death except devise some extenuating circumstances for it, attributing to the deceased one final gesture of thoughtfulness toward us and arranging the coincidences in some natural order.”
  • “The important thing is to keep separate accounts, because love is love, but money is money.”
  • “A family just starting out is sometimes like that: a nebula of self-centeredness in danger of imploding.”
  • “The end does not pardon us even the slightest of faults, even the most innocent of failings.”
  • “We live in anticipation, constantly waiting for something that will free us from the burdens of the present, without taking into account new ones that will arise.”
  • “…and then she added one of those sentences that experience provides us with when there are no adequate words: “Maybe it’s better this way.””

[notes]: January Wrap-Up

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life lately

I can’t remember having a better start to a year, in my adult life, than this one. It actually started out pretty crappy (a trend I advanced from 2016) but half-way through the month, I did a sort of “life check”and started making conscious efforts to live my best life. If you know me even a little bit then you know I am wont to ineffectual declarations of change but there seems to be a noticeable mental shift so hey, maybe this is the year I finally get my shit together.

word of the month: transition.

The highlight of January has been being a finalist in the inaugural Pen Avenue Malawi short story competition. The greatest part has been all the positive feedback I’ve gotten about the story which I didn’t really believe in when I submitted it. I’m so happy people are reading and liking what I wrote.

SPEAKING OF! Today is the last day people can help me win the contest. You can support my short tale about a homicidal lesbian stoner by reading it, commenting on it and sharing the page (using the buttons on the page). You can also help by liking, commenting on and sharing this facebook post.

Thank you for your support x

 books i read

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The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David Stuart MacLean

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Like Family by Paolo Giordano

(reviews coming soon)

music

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sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

etc.

The Good Place is a really funny, very bright and original show – watch it. I haven’t finished it yet but I can’t wait to. The new America’s Next Top Model is gloriously trashy, I love it.

A friend introduced me to Off the Air and well, if you haven’t watched them yet then Youtube them and have a lovely, trippy afternoon. My favourite is NEWNOW.

last month’s posts

3 Things to Remember on Your Path to the Better You

What I’ve Learned About Asking for Help

january motivation gallery 


How was your January and are you looking forward to February?

3 Things to Remember on Your Path to the Better You

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Give a cheer if this sounds familiar:

You found yourself in a rut! Maybe you know how you got there or maybe things got a little crazy and you still can’t figure out just how you found yourself in that place. The walls were closing in when you realized that something had to change. Perhaps the realization was quick or perhaps it happened slowly, until change was poking you right in the chest, telling you that there was no way out but through it. So you decided. You decided that it was time to be a better you.

Are you saying “hoorah”?

Now here you are. Changing. Except it’s not so easy, is it? You wish it could be. You wish that by virtue of wanting to improve, the fractured pieces of your life will magically come together and voila, you’re the better you you’ve always dreamed of! But it’s a wish that won’t come true.

If you are in the midst of making changes in your life – whether these changes are about your personal life, your relationships or your career – and you are finding that these improvements are challenging then this post is for you!


“If you try anything, if you try to lose weight, or to improve yourself, or to love, or to make the world a better place, you have already achieved something wonderful, before you even begin. Forget failure. If things don’t work out the way you want, hold your head up high and be proud. And try again. And again. And again!” – Sarah Dessen


The important thing is to remember that by correctly deducing that you had to make changes, you made the biggest and most important step in becoming a better you. You need to be immensely proud of that. By admitting you need to step up your “life game”, you made a tremendous shift in perspective that will vastly improve your life if you follow through. But you also need to remember that the path to self-improvement is not smooth.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you take on self-improvement:

Change Does Not Happen over Night. Be Patient.

You are a product of conditioning. Through the years, you and your surroundings have taught you to be the not-optimal person you are trying to ascend from. You need to remember this! It isn’t a cop-out and it’s not an excuse. It’s reality.

Now, all those bad behaviours and patterns of thought you have? You can’t will them away! You’re going to have to work at being better. While you figure out how to do that, you need to be patient. You have to give yourself room to grow. Pressuring yourself might feel like it will get results faster but what you’re actually doing is setting yourself up for failures. You will inevitably feel as if your efforts to get on the right path are feeble and that they are not enough to help you become better.

You don’t need to bully yourself into becoming a better person. Instead, give yourself time to make the right course correction for the person you want to be.

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You Will Stumble a Lot and That Is Okay

Your self-destructive tendencies are habitual. Just as we all know that at some point in their road to recovery, an addict will relapse, we should also be very aware that people who are trying to improve themselves hit their own walls. Something will happen that throws you back into the person you’re trying very hard to move away from being.

When that something happens and you find yourself thrust back to your old not-optimal self, you need to remember that this phenomena is a natural part of your journey.

If it all came easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. When you make a mistake, acknowledge and use it as a chance to grow. It’s not about the fall, after all, it’s all about getting back up!

You Won’t Regret It

Think back to a time when you accomplished something but the path to your accomplishment was full of complications and strife.

What sticks out more? All the troubles you went through or the accomplishment itself? Here’s the thing about struggle – however intensely it weighs on you as it is happening, it passes. I promise you that. You know what will always stick with you? The fact that you did it! You achieved something!

I know that it’s hard right now. Maybe you even feel like you’re wasting your time or that you are actually incapable of redirecting your life in a meaningful way. You have to remember that the better you that is waiting is absolutely worth it. You will be so proud of not giving up; of staying strong and working for it even when it didn’t feel easy.

Remember these things as you commit to the changes you know you need to make. Work hard and stay strong. Your better you will thank you.

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Further Reading:


HELP ME WIN A SHORT STORY COMPETITION!

Here’s how to help:

* READ MY STORY
* LEAVE A COMMENT
* LIKE THIS POST ON FACEBOOK
* SPREAD THE WORD

Thank you x