Monday, November 13, 2017


In the short story The Happy Prince, Oscar Wilde tells of a statue and a swallow, and the cost of compassion. It's a melancholy tale, and I love it dearly, listening to an audio version at least once a year, and reading it from time to time. In one scene, the swallow has the following interaction with a discouraged playwright:
The young man had his head buried in his hands, so he did not hear the flutter of the bird’s wings, and when he looked up he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the withered violets. “I am beginning to be appreciated,” he cried; “this is from some great admirer.  Now I can finish my play,” and he looked quite happy.
I love this scene. 
When I entered my story The Comforter into Hamilton's Short Works Prize contest last year, I was in a rough season, creatively. Like Wilde's playwright, I was discouraged and numb. The news that I had received an honourable mention was exactly as valuable as a rare and precious sapphire from India. That certificate of achievement lived on our fridge for months and months, as tangible proof that people beyond my family liked what I was doing. It was a wonderful encouragement at just the right time.

I've been doing much better since then. No doubt, part of that change is thanks to some professional counselling (mental health challenges are no joke, and formal therapy was very helpful for me). More progress can be credited to Ben, who relentlessly admires and motivates his mercurial, artistic wife. So, when I entered the contest again this year, I was no longer the heavy-hearted playwright from 1888, but a relatively confident, organized and productive young author-illustrator, already on my way to concluding 2017 on a triumphant personal note. The metaphorical sapphire that came with winning this weekend was a delightful surprise indeed!

I am incredibly grateful to the people who fund and run the Short Works Prize in this city; it's an incredible honour to be recognized in this way. I am also thankful for you, the quiet blog-reader; this little stage of mine has been supported for many years by the gentle applause of clicks and shares. I could do this without you... but I'm terribly glad you're here.

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