Some years ago the local library held a writing contest. I considered entering it. Naturally, the requirements were specific as to word count and subject matter. I scribbled down a couple of drafts, (this in the time when I started everything on a legal pad with a host of ball point pens). However, as most writers, was not confident in the direction I was heading.
The word contest adds a head pounding pressure to the act of writing. The specific requirements gave me the feeling of rigidity and it killed any creative abilities I might possess. When I first learned of the “contest” there was only one week until the deadline. “Deadline” another make me freak out word. Since this was a contest someone was going to judge my work. It had to be my best. Must be perfect. After those first futile attempts I gave up and dismissed the idea of submitting any thing at all.
I hate giving up on something, so although I didn’t enter, I did keep track of when the winner would be announced and where the short story would be reprinted.
Ok, after a few weeks there it was in the local paper, the winner of the Patchogue/Medford Library Writing Contest. First Prize. I was so envious that someone had the courage to enter, and I couldn’t wait to read it.
Peaches, it was a story about sliced, jarred peaches. Peaches on the window sill in the sun. It was nice. Well written. But on that first glance it was a story about jarred, sliced up peaches in juice. Astonishing. Then I read it again and again.
All these years later I understand why it was such a great story. Why it truly deserved to win. The writer had the ability to relate her childhood memories, and the comfort felt while being at her Grandma’s house, through that sparkling jar of peaches. Because of her words you felt the warmth of the sun on your face. You experienced the love of the woman who had jarred those very peaches, and the slower pace of another time in our history. That short short taught me much about creative writing.
Today I sat at my dining room table. My fruit bowl is full and on the very top, resting across the apples, oranges and pears, is a bunch of bananas. Just the right shade of yellow, firm but not hard. No brown spots. You can smell them. I wonder if I could write an award-winning story about those bananas?
The personality of a banana is very different from a peach, but I am sure it can be done. Afterall, look what Harry Belafonte did for Bananas. Didn’t the Banana Boat song give us all the desire to visit the islands? I think I am going to give it a try. It may not be today or tomorrow, but sometime in my future there will be an epic story about bananas.