Circa 2000-2001, I wrote a short story for a nation-wide contest in the UAE, without the slightest thought of whether I even had the literary wares to craft a good story. Winning was a laughable prospect in my view. I wrote because it gave me a reason and purpose to sit down and put my mind to something I was getting increasingly hooked to – writing stories.
I still remember how a writers’ group that I was part of then thought it was poorly structured and wasn’t much of a story. I was a novice, timid and severely lacking in confidence to even explain my effort. I don’t remember how I responded to their view, but when the results were announced, lo and behold! yours truly became the best short story writer in the whole of UAE! Gosh! I am cupping my mouth and going pink at the thought even now.
That, of course, was a long time ago. There must have been very few story writers in this country at that time. Yet it was some kind of validation. It gave me the fillip and fuel to carry on.
The world now is replete with story-tellers, many of who are topnotch wordsmiths. My writing might still be considered unstructured and ragtag by many. It may not conform to the prescribed norms and new age writing styles.
Today, as I work on finishing up a new story as my contest entry for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, I still don’t know if I am qualified or have the right literary wherewithal to even participate in something as high-profile as this. But I am giving it a reasonable shot within my means. Winning is not in my horizon of thoughts even today.
What makes me want to draw on all my available resources for the present task is the fact that it gives me a reason to sit down and weave a tale in the earnest. A purpose to write, if you will. And an opportunity to hone my skills and an excuse to wander in the mind.
If nothing, it will add a chapter to my next collection of short stories. A new sunshine, perhaps, After The Rain.