A week or so ago, my sister challenged me to participate in a writing competition which took place on Wattpad. At first, I turned her down, since I knew that I would not have enough time to write a new story that would fit the requirements of the organizers, but after a few more days, as my schedule cleared up a little bit, I admitted defeat. I accepted her challenge to compete against each other and see who scores higher.
A couple of days before the contest’s deadline, I got an idea for the story. At that time, I was on my way to college. A few moments later, I was on the phone with my sister.
“I already have a few pages written~!” She teased me. “Did you start writing yet?”
“Nope. Not yet. But you’re going down!” I laughed. “I’m gonna win.”
“We’ll see about that. And you better write down your idea before you forget it.” She scolded.
“But if I do that, I’ll surely forget it then. So, nope.”
“How about the song? I bet you chose one of your weird Asian songs.”
This was one of the requirements. The story was supposed to start off with the first line from a song, regardless of the language it was sung in. I thought the way the song was integrated in the story didn’t really matter and that’s why I decided to choose the song at the end. One of the characters was going to hear it on the radio, so that wouldn’t have affected my story plot too much.
However, unlike what I knew, though I must admit that at that time I did not take a proper look at the contest rules, the way you integrated that line into your story was rather tricky. Contestants were not allowed to use certain techniques. Like mine, for example.
As soon as my sister heard about my radio idea, she burst out laughing. “They said that’s prohibited. You can’t make them hear it on the radio or whatever. It has to be there, in the narration.”
She already knew about that rule, and I was most certainly doomed.
When in class, I kept thinking of a song that would fit my idea, but nothing came to mind. I hesitated, and then it struck me: I am a writer. That means that even if I do write the story the way I have it in my mind, I could still alter it to fit the requirements of the competition. A large grin issued on my face. There was still a possibility for me to win.
Or so I thought.
“Did you finish your Diaspora assignment?” I asked one of my classmates during break.
“Oh, my God! What assignment?!”
“We’re supposed to write a page or so about one of Hemon’s stories… focusing on the archaeology of the self.” I explained. “Or something like that.”
“I didn’t get her email.” She said, letting out a swear word. “Could you please forward it to me?”
The problem was that not even I did that piece of homework. I was entirely lost as to what to write. Reason why: I couldn’t really make out what was asked of me.
I pushed the idea of the competition to the back of my mind, and once home I started thinking on how to answer the question asked by the professor. The deadline was the very next day.
“Did you write your story yet?” My sister would call and ask every now and then.
“No, I got homework to do…”
She would then usher me to start on it too, because the deadline was just around the corner.
On Sunday I actually planned to attend a cultural festival organized by the department of Japanese from my university. The students there, along with the professors, were organizing it every year, and I was eager to see if my second experience there would be better than the first. But, somehow, I didn’t get to go.
“Girls, what do we do with the presentation on Monday?”
Funny how my weekend and beginning of the week got so cluttered. During the previous Monday I was to give a presentation on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in comparison with Ionesco’s Macbett, which got postponed due to the lack of time.
“When are you gonna start on that story? I thought you said you’re gonna beat me. Go write!”
Talk about peer pressure.
Monday came with a reminder from Sunday: there was a new task for the same Diaspora class—a novel to be read. True, not in its entirety, but there were still around a hundred pages.
I wasn’t gonna make it with the story.
“What about your idea?”
“It wasn’t gonna work anyway.”
“I’m still participating, you know.”
“Okay then. I need your help. I wrote it all on paper and I need a fast typist.”
I laughed as I knew that my schedule that night was still busy. The next school day awaited full of activities. There were movies I had to watch, articles to read…
“At least, proofread it for me. I am not asking you to edit it. Just look for typos.”
That night I was planning on going to bed earlier, since I kept being up late, working on various assignments, but, of course, that did not happen. I finished helping my sister a couple of minutes before midnight, right before the contest deadline. She submitted her work the very last minute.