We would like to congratulate Megha Nayar for our entry into our Short Story Contest. Her Title: The Lesser Day was a short about an author’s thoughts about writing, what goes into writing and writing for contest.
Her biography: She is a 26-year old Communications postgraduate from India, working for a design firm. Books have been her constant companion and she has spend many waking hours each day with the written word. She writes for contests but also for herself, and enjoys contemplating about different things because it often leads her to interesting plots. She is looking to be a full-time writer as soon as she can make it happen.
Excerpt: Today, as Anna settles in at her desk, her coffee mug holds a refreshingly lighter brew. The coffee is mild because so is the deadline. Today is not one of those make-or-break days. She will have finished her oeuvre well in time to catch a full seven hours of sleep.
Writing for prestigious competitions demands a certain temperament, an appropriate ambience. She usually turns the tube light off, because obscurity suits her writing better. She doesn’t watch her favorite sitcom, because the wisecracks keep her smiling for long thereafter and that is detrimental to her fare. She even makes herself extra strong coffee against her doctor’s advice, because she dare not risk falling asleep in-between. It’s tedious being so finicky each time she wants to write. But then, writing is a demanding craft. Thank God today is a lesser day!
This competition is a local one. It’s being organized by a charitable organization in the neighborhood, and she personally knows all those who’re likely to be her rivals. They pose her no threat. I’ll scribble my way to victory, she assures herself.
The deadline is midnight. Anna is certain that inspiration is right round the corner. It will strike me and in fifteen minutes I’ll have my story, she muses. Uncannily though, that voice of inspiration has been eluding her today. Much as she tries, she can’t come up with a single subject exotic enough to be worth talking about.
A steady breeze blows, involuntarily serenading her. It stirs up something in her and she’s glad for it. From where she’s sitting, she can see thousands of lights below. There are couples walking on the pavement hand-in-hand, couples hugging and kissing, couples making their way to homes that both of them proudly call their own. She gazes at them with a smile on her face and yearning in her heart. This moment, the intimacy and the sensuous breeze – damned if I don’t write a prize-winner today.
She checks the trust’s website. It’s pink and white, an ethereal-looking website that you would, at first glance, take for an e-gifting portal. It’s so different from the usual writing websites, Anna muses. There is none of the pseudo-seriousness, none of the deliberate vocabulary you’d find in most writing contest notifications. She lingers on the Home page, lost in the attractive pink motifs. And suddenly, she is seized by an idea. The laptop is turned on and a new Word document opened – it’s time to conquer.
Fifteen minutes waltz by, and Anna is surprised her story is not even half-way yet. She’d wanted to write no more than 300 words but is already well over 500. She smiles to herself and continues typing. For someone so linguistically endowed, writing an award-winning story for a local trust should be an effortless job.
Half an hour into the story, Anna is struggling to fit in everything within the word limit of 800. She has lots to tell, many layers to create, many a multi-layered dialogue to accommodate. How do they expect me to make a mark if they don’t let me bare my heart, she grumbles.