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.
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.
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.
Since I’m a finalist in a short story writing competition, I’ve been asking friends and family to support me by reading and commenting on my entry. That’s kind of a challenge for someone who hates people reading her work. Don’t get me wrong, I love feedback – from faceless readers! Not people I have to interact with on a regular or semi-regular basis. I think deep down it’s because I am highly performative person and writing is the truest thing I do. It’s like exposing yourself. And I’m not particularly good at doing that with people in my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned about asking for help:
1. It is intimidating.
Asking for help isn’t easy. Apart from a few people that I’m comfortable asking anything from, I cringed every time I had to tell someone I wanted their help for something that would benefit me solely.
2. It feels like nagging.
Despite the fact that I myself am happy to help anyone who asks me for help (if I have the capacity to do so), I found that asking people for help felt like I was pestering them.
3. Receiving help is perversely satisfying.
I have more than 40 comments on my entry and I can’t stop smiling about it. I wish I could say that I’m enjoying this so much because it’s a testament to the goodness of people. But really, my pleasure is entirely selfish because the people who took the time to aid me showed me that I matter to them and mattering matters to me.
4. It opens your eyes.
A significant portion of those 40+ comments are from people who are friends of friends or total strangers. Every single one of their comments (so far) has been positive and wonderful and I guess it just goes to show that people can surprise you. And it makes me feel a lot more confident about my writing which I often hate sharing because when I write, I share my truth and my soul and I’m pretty sensitive about what people will think of it. The overwhelmingly positive responses have been delightful.
5. It makes you wonder about “keeping score”.
I thought a lot about how it was so easy to ask some people and not others. It was very easy to ask my family, for example, because hey, “you do for family”. It was more difficult with more casual acquaintances. And when I’d asked, I wondered if that meant that I owed them now. I think that speaks to how I frequently hold myself to double standards. I am perfectly happy to help someone knowing that I am doing so for the sake of it. I don’t need or expect anything in return. So why don’t I give others the benefit of the doubt? I should probably work on that
Ultimately, I learned that there is no harm in asking. That there’s no weakness in it. And feeling squeamish about it is helps no one and probably points more to internal flaws rather than reflecting the feelings of the people you ask help from.
HELP ME WIN A SHORT STORY COMPETITION!
Here’s how to help:
* READ MY STORY
* LEAVE A COMMENT
* SPREAD THE WORD
Thank you x