Writing a story is like putting everything you know all together in a brain blender and creating an entirely new and compelling world. A story is more than just character and plot: it’s the smell of mud on a soaking April afternoon, the look in a hero’s eyes as he realizes that the stranger he’s staring at is staring back at him, the sound of an old woman asking for directions in a foreign land. Congratulations to all of you for creating these bold new worlds and for having the courage to invite us, the readers, to participate in your adventures. Thank you for lending us your wonderful imaginations. My own world is richer for having read you.
Barry Dempster is the author of the novel, The Ascension of Jesse Rapture, two collections of short stories, a children’s book, and eight volumes of poetry, the most recent being the The Words Wanting Out, Poems Selected and New. Among his many writing prizes is a nomination for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. He lives in Holland Landing, Ontario.
“Writing is for reading. Better writing makes better reading and better reading makes better writing.” These are the words of Edgar Dale, a well-known educator who has made the study of writing his profession and his hobby. When you think about it, they make a lot of sense: in our earliest years, we learned to talk by listening and later on, we learn to write by reading. Reading the short stories in this contest has been both a pleasure and a challenge, the challenge being to place one person’s story ahead of another. You may not agree with the judges’ choice, but let it be a consolation to you that the choice was not easy and your story has merit too. Continue to write, for as Epictetus wrote: “If you wish to become a writer, write,” and “No one knows what he/she can do until he/she tries.”
“The sun shines on the seventh child of the seventh child.” Certainly I have always felt Lady Luck is on my side. Born in Suez in Egypt, I have had the benefit of a cosmopolitan education first of all in Alexandria, Egypt, then in Berkeley, California, in London, England and finally, at the University of Toronto, Ontario. Reading has always been a passion and I spent ten years as a school librarian. When I left school in England, I had the privilege of working with a Cambridge University Professor, Frank Debenham, who in his youth accompanied the famous explorer, Sir Robert Scott to the Antarctic. That was in my days as a cartographer. Since that time, my career led me into education, both at the elementary and secondary levels, where I have had the opportunity to read plenty of young adults’ writing. Today, I am a retired school principal, passionately interested in furthering the cause of literacy in our community. My role as Chair of the Richmond Hill Public Library Board gives me the opportunity to support this cause within our Town.
To each person who submitted a story to the Richmond Hill Public Library short story competition:
You are all winners. You put yourself out there. You gave of yourself, through your story. You asked to be heard. That’s what matters. Not whether or not you won. There was room for nine winners and five runners-up, but that’s just a structural issue. It has nothing to do with the meeting of souls that occurs when a writer seeks a reader. There were stories that I loved that didn’t win, didn’t even place. But you touched me, and that’s what it’s all about. So thanks, and stay out there.
Ken Sparling has written four books of non-fiction in the Champion Sports Biography series: Michael Schumacher: Living on the Limit; Jacques Villeneuve: Born to Race; Venus and Serena Williams; and Jeff Gordon, as well as three books of fiction: Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall; Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt (custom-made by the author upon request); and an untitled work published by Pedlar Press in 2003 and catalogued as [A novel]. He has also published stories and articles online at various writers’ sites including www.danforthreview.com, www.climac.com, and www.taint.com.
© 2004 The Richmond Hill Public Library Board