When I was studying in Class 12, I remember wishing that someone would come up with a short-story writing competition.
Of course, these competitions weren’t exactly hard to find. If you’re an aspiring writer, and if you look around hard enough, you will come across plenty of those in little nooks and corners, all across the country. The problem is where they lead to.
Most story-writing contests have, as their reward, a prize, perhaps cash, perhaps a certificate, perhaps even both.
And that’s a great thing: to win and to be noticed for your skills amongst other talented people is an amazing feeling. But as a writer, how do these contests really help you?
Are they helping you to create a sustainable connection with the industry you want to get into? Are they putting you in touch with authors and mentors who can not only help your writing improve but teach you things you wouldn’t even think about: how to have the stamina to keep going when you’re drowning in the middle of the second draft of your novel/ short story collection/ poetry collection; how to create your proposal to approach literary agents; how to ensure your manuscript goes from a manuscript to a book?
The Times of India Write India Campaign S2 has begun, and this is exactly what it does.
I could give you a hundred reasons to all the writers on my followers list, including you- yes, you reading this right now- should head to the page now and register, but I’m only going to give you six.
#1 It features 10 INCREDIBLE authors in its mentor-judges lineup
The list includes Shobhaa De, Namita Gokhale and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. This is not even counting Jeffrey Archer, Anand Neelakantan and Ruskin Bond, whose entries have closed earlier in the year!
The contest will run until 30th April, 2018. Would you honestly miss out on a chance to be mentored by these living legends?
#2 There’s something in it for everyone
Durjoy Datta, Amish and Anita Nair were three of the mentor-judges from Season 1, showing the diversity of material the contest invites. Every month for the duration of the contest, one of the authors shared a passage written by them. Budding writers wrote stories by interpreting those passages and incorporating them into their own stories. The best ones were curated and chosen by the authors and the Write India team. From heartbreak, to mythology, to literary fiction: there was space for it all.
Nothing has changed this time. If you fancy some epic fantasy, wait your turn to write your very own Palace of Illusions. If acerbic political commentary is your thing, hang around for Manu Joseph’s turn. This time, there’s even Twinkle Khanna, Mrs Funnybones herself, which means all budding P G Wodehouses will have their chance to shine!
#3 It is aimed not just at writers but at readers too
Of course, all writers are readers to varying degrees. But it’s rare to find a competition that is more perfectly geared for fans of authors, genres and series. If you’re an enthusiastic fan just beginning to transition from reading to writing- heck, if you’ve already started writing closet fan fiction, afraid to come out into the open-now’s your chance. Few competitions involve readers as writers the way Write India does.
Astonishingly, 33 of the 110 winners of last season have already been published. More will follow. The question is, will you be one of them?
#4 The perks of winning are ridiculous
Remember when we discussed certificates and cash? If you are a winner in Season 2, you will get so much more that I’m almost jealous.
Firstly, your story will be part of a fabulous anthology published by The Times of India. The reason it will be fabulous is, of course, that you will be joined by other winners of the competition. You can find the previous anthology here and here.
Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, at the end of the competition there will be a workshop. You will get to attend this workshop, and then do that one thing that is most elusive for beginners: pick the brains of the best in the industry, to find out how to join them one day.
#5 The number of badass women amongst the mentors is too damn high
And that is a GREAT thing.
Too often, writing competition judging panels become manels: filled with men judging women, frequently through lenses that automatically exclude subtleties of women’s writing. Of course, good writing is good writing, but it is exhausting to see the same patriarchal structures being replicated ad infinitum in all fields.
TOI Write India does not do this.
Apart from the badass women already mentioned, Sudha Murty and Nikita Singh are also members of the mentor panel. And you know what happens when badass women come together: they encourage more badass women to join them. I foresee a lot of participation from women writers this year!
Here’s hoping that one day, a panel with equal representation of men and women will no longer be remarkable news. But until it is, I will continue to celebrate initiatives taken by brands like Times of India to make sure this happens.
#6 You will join the growing platform of young, talented Indians curated by Times of India
Write India is not just a contest for the youth. Last year’s winners were an enormously diverse bunch of writers who made it to the list on merit alone. But the world is a tough place for young beginners in any industry, including writing. TOI wants to change that, and Write India is the perfect spring board to get started.
If you’ve managed to read all the way down to here, and are still waiting around- GO! RUN!
Do it for the chance to win the amazing prizes. Do it for the opportunity to meet the idols most fans only dream of meeting.
Most importantly, do it for the chance to write the best story you possibly can.
And you can thank me later.
Hi, guys! Sorry about the twenty-day absence, but as I’m sure you know, life gets crazy sometimes and it’s difficult to keep up. I love you guys for sticking around. Yesterday was Bijoya Dashami, when Durga Puja came to an end. I’m heartbroken, but you guys help me to move on.
The winner of the giveaway has been ANNOUNCED! It is Raja Gopal Tangella from Facebook. Raj, your book is on your way to you!
Keep an eye out for the next giveaway, guys. As always, stay safe and take care of each other. Shubho bijoya!