Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Novel Contest with No Entries

We were all a bit perplexed about what was happening with the Utusan Group Literary Prize - remember? Well, I got this interesting news from Teoh Choon Ean (pen-name Cean), who won one of the prizes in the Utusan Group Literature Prize in 2005 for a novel she wrote in just six days. The truth is revealed!
Following the advert on Utusan-Exxon English YA Novel 2006 Contest in April, I thought I might want give it a try again this year. I read the interesting blog comments on such short notice being given and also wondered what was up. I am also aware that most novelists do not write a novel within a month and only crazy ones like moi would attempt a novel in 6 days (2005 entry). So I had a resolution to have a month to work on it (a luxury of time for me!). One thing led to another and then I was caught up in the illness, death, wake and funeral of a close family member when I realised that omigosh I had only a week to go. Being a never-say-die person I decided to still try and a week of frenzied writing started, including writing on Windows Mobile on my Dopod Pro838 PDA during hospital visits, the wake AND the funeral (forgive me). And on the penultimate day I rang Utusan to say I was coming with my script.(It was still unprinted out in my computer then.)

Guess what? It was 3 hours to closing time (April 30) and I was told there wasn't a SINGLE entry yet. So I said to the editor that I thought the lack of entries was because no one usually writes a whole novel in 30 days except perhaps a crazy writer like me. That perhaps the advert should have been out earlier.

Their explanation? .... well, they said that they expected all novelists or would-be novelists to have a novel in progress all the time and they did not expect any novelist to write at the last minute (excuse me, except crazy Cean!). The advert was just to inform writers that they could send in their entries now. So apparently, it will be an ongoing thing like the BM novels and if you have a novel you can send in this month and they will keep it for the 2007 contest. Apparently that has worked for the BM contest for years.

So thinking over that, I guess it makes sense. Now we know the reason for the late advert was the assumption that there will be no last minute novelists. Hahaha still, it's an assumption because I am one. But to be fair, I took a week to write this time but I HAD the idea germinating for a while in my head. Though I must say when I started writing, the story took a life of its own. And hey, if you have small thumbs, try writing on a PDA keyboard. It's so liberating because you can write anywhere!

So, what will happen when there's only ONE entry...frankly...I don't know. And hahaha, in future if you have a writing forum/seminar I might volunteer to talk on How To Write A Novel In A Week! (Hopefully ... And Win A Prize).

Still chuckling over the whole experience...

Warmest Regards,
So there you are. Get writing. Utusan wants you.

And Cean - we might well take you up on the workshop idea!


Anonymous said...

I guess s/he wins then :D

If I had a dopod PDA... I would be writing too :D can you write a nove on a PDA with that tiny keyboard ? would that be a colossal pain ? :D

PS. No one is writing because for the first time in decades, the sun is really shining and so they're out making hay.

animah said...

Malaysia Boleh!

David Byck said...

Dear Sharon,

I just finished your suggested read, The Poisonwood Bible. What a wonderful story and a beautiful way to tell it in the five POV’s. You know, although I did not grow up in the jungles of deep dark Africa, I feel the story paralleled my very own. My father was overly religious and pounded this into us every day. With all his attention on the church, he managed to neglect his true gift – his children. Today, although the four of us survived, we all live at least 3,000 miles apart, in three different countries and some of us have not spoken to the other in twenty-five years. What happened to all that fire and brimstone? Well, although some of us have “Faith” none of us participate in a structured religion.

Thanks again for the recommendation.



bibliobibuli said...

hey, glad you liked it david and that it struck so much of a chord! (sounds as if you might have a novel there of your own too!)

i loved the way she differentiated the voices - each one sounded different, saw the world in a different way. i also loved it because it really felt like the africa i know and it had such respect for the people.

it's propbably the book our book club have enjoyed most over time

Lydia Teh said...

Aiyo, what a fantastic response. Wish Cean all the best. Looks like she's the clear cut winner.