Good News and Free Flow

I happily began the year 2013 with three bits of good writing news:

– I won second place in Good News Toronto‘s True Story Contest. (more on that here)

– My short story Nelles (in French) will be published in the literary magazine Virages in March. (an excerpt can be found here)

–  I will have a ten-minute play produced in this year’s Inspirato Festival, for which I must  write a play from scratch.

As part of  Inspirato Festival’s Playwrights’ Mentoring Project, I attended a day-long workshop during which I met my fellow playwrights and did short writing exercises before being assigned the subject matter of the play I am to write for the festival in June 2013.

One of the exercises included building a small sculpture and writing a free flow/stream of consciousness monologue from its point of view. The result:

We voyaged across the sea, but remain perched in precarious existence. If we photosynthesized, we’d be leaning toward the sun. As it is, we merely lean gravity-ward, which annoys us as we yearn to achieve more. We are both practical and whimsical; our career as a children’s entertainer didn’t last long. If we had the means, we’d bask in the collective glow of of super troupers and admiration. Sadly, the reflection of mere trinkets in the mirror remind us that inanimate life cannot hope, as Pinocchio did, to become real. And even if we fulfilled our dream of a grander, more productive life, it might be at the cost of a separation too painful to fathom. A diminutive pedestal therefore must suffice; hope of a melody at our centre remaining merely the lullaby of slumber, which, even that, escapes us.

A trinket from Croatia, a set of skeleton keys and a foam clown nose get me writing.

It’s unlikely that this text makes it anywhere into the short play I need to write by next month, but it was fun playing with words and getting something down, pencil to paper. Now to write about rope…

A Good Neighbour: Sunborrowers and Watering Cans

In 2012, I participated in a local writing contest, held by Good News Toronto, called the True Story Contest. The challenge was to write about A Good Neighbour in 450 words or less.

I wrote about an unknown neighbour of mine who watered (and saved) my toddler’s bean plant this summer and about my parents’ neighbour, Colette, who does the same for my father’s tomato plants.  My piece won second place in the contest and was published online this month.

An excerpt from Sunborrowers and Watering Cans:

Armed with a watering can, Colette makes her way across her neighbours’ lawn and down a small hill to the vegetable patch. She carefully removes the mesh wire fence, which ineffectively keeps rabbits out, and steps in to water the thirsty plants and their cherry-red fruit. Once that job is done, she fills the watering can with the bite-sized tomatoes, ensuring none goes to waste. There are always more when my parents return, as long as Colette waters them.

Later, Colette drags a lawn chair onto my parents’ property for a well-deserved rest. Papa jokes that it’s only fair: in the afternoon, Colette’s place is in shadow, “so we let her borrow our sun!” A little water for a little sun; it’s a pleasant, reciprocal relationship.

Colette blushed when I read her the story, right before it was published online. I could tell she was surprised, yet pleased, about her role in this story. Now, my task is to figure out which of my 600+ neighbours helped along our ‘garden’ this summer and offer my thanks in person.


An Encounter That Changed My Life

Last year, I participated in a local writing contest, held by Good News Toronto, called the True Story Contest. The challenge was to write about An Encounter That Changed Your Life, in 450 words or less.

I wrote about my young friend Sierra, who, barely out of toddlerhood, taught me how to be a better person and inspired me to have a family. My piece won third place in the contest and was published online in December 2011.

Six months later, I happily learned that « Sierra », the prize-winning nonfiction piece, had been printed in the hard copy version of Good News Toronto. How thrilling; not only is there tangible, inked evidence of my story, it’s even illustrated by Toronto artist Rosie Pea.

The best consequence of seeing the story in print, though, is that I was able to share a few copies with Sierra herself, who read it for the first time last week. Her reaction? A pleased smile hidden by an admonishing: « But now everyone‘s going to know me! »

They would be lucky to.

The short nonfiction piece "Sierra" by A.M. Matte
To read "Sierra" online: